The Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession is a global research study that examines the impact of the implementation of project, program, and portfolio management. The “hot off the press” 2014 results show that in order to remain competitive, organizations must tie projects to strategy and place a primary focus on people, processes, and outcomes.

Why are 44 percent of strategic initiatives unsuccessful? PMI’s Pulse research reveals the reason: just 42 percent of organizations report having high alignment of projects to organizational strategy. Furthermore, only 32 percent of organizations report that their projects are better aligned compared with those of a year ago.

Are you one of the agile few?

Organizations with high alignment of projects to strategy are significantly more likely to be highly agile (23 percent versus 5 percent), and agility is critical. Organizations with high organizational agility report not only more successful projects, but also more successful strategic initiatives (69 percent compared with 45 percent among organizations with low organizational agility).

Unfortunately, only 15 percent report high levels of organizational agility, suggesting that organizations are not prepared to adapt to shifts in today’s complex market environment and shifts in consumer demands and expectations.

An organization’s focus on agility and strategic alignment not only impacts the success of its highest priority initiatives, it also leads to better project performance overall. Eighty-nine percent of projects at high-performing organizations meet original goals and business intent, compared with just 36 percent at low-performing organizations.

Does your people mix drive high performance?

Organizations need to focus on the development and training of their talent in order to achieve superior project performance, successful strategic initiatives, and become high performers. But talent management is a challenge, with two-thirds of organizations using outsourced or contract project managers and 26 percent of organizations planning to increase the percentage of project managers who are contracted or outsourced in 2014.

Effective integration of internal and external workforces is essential. According go the research, high-performing organizations are more than twice as likely as their low-performing counterparts to align talent management to organization strategy.

Do you leverage optimized PM processes to effectively manage change?

Two out of five organizations (40 percent) report that their effectiveness at organizational change management is higher compared to a year ago. Despite this, only one in five organizations reports highly effective change management.

The research reveals that organizations that are highly effective at change management are four times more likely to frequently use change management practices (94 percent compared with only 24 percent among organizations minimally effective).

Nearly one half (46 percent) of organizations don’t fully understand the value of project management. These organizations face a real risk to their success as significantly more strategic initiatives are successful when organizations “get” PM (63 percent versus 47 percent).

The percentage of organizations that report having a PMO remains flat at 69 percent. The use of standardized project management practices throughout the organization is also flat; today, only one-fourth of organizations report using these throughout the organization.

Do you understand how your projects positively impact the big picture?

Benefits realization is the practice of ensuring that the outcome of a project produces the projected benefits claimed in the business case. This is achieved through the establishment, measurement and communication of the expected benefits of an organization’s initiatives.

The Pulse research reveals that fewer than one in five (17 percent) organizations report high benefits realization maturity. High performers are nearly eight times more likely to be mature in their benefits realization processes. Organizations with benefits realization maturity see 73 percent of their strategic initiatives meeting original goals and business intent.