The cumulative increase in project delivery costs plus the loss of targeted value causes projects to lose half of their available value, unnecessarily

Disappearing value is a real problem

If you have ever wondered where the value goes on projects? Why, regardless of the rigor of the business case and financial analytics, the results fail to meet expectations and the benefits are … well where did they go?

Our research over the past 20 years has found that today’s largely cost control driven approaches to project delivery result in projects losing more value than they deliver. Our figures are derived from research by the author at BCG and TOP and confirms research findings from Standish, AD Little, Deloitte, Gartner and others.

Cumulatively, bit-by-bit during a project, value is missed, lost or destroyed, and/or costs increased. Much of this value loss has been invisible and therefore has not been addressed or managed. It is not uncommon for 60% of the available to be lost and the costs to simultaneously increase by 60%. Frighteningly, these results have not improved in many years (The 1991 AD Little and 2014 Standish studies on project success are remarkably similar in results).

The size of the prize

Yet the cost of the current level of project failure is phenomenal. Research in 2006 [1] on just the IT projects commissioned in Australia found that improving project delivery performance could increase the banked returns from 30% to 240%, an eight times increase in returns. Even if you only attained half of this increase, you’ll have moved from 30% to 135% returns — a prize still well worth pursuing

(This degree of improvement is consistent with our own research and with the results achieved using TOP tools techniques and processes).

All of these poor project delivery performance statistics just emphasize the size of the prize available. And that ignoring these statistics is expensive — very expensive!

You need to focus on 'value' to realize value

And yet poor project performance is allowed to continue. This does not need to be the case.

By identifying where and how value is lost and costs increase, you can manage your projects’ value. Simple steps can help you avoid significant value loss and increase the delivered value to your organization – often with less effort and in less time.

Organizations lose massive value in their projects because they lack the organizational delivery capability to deliver all of the available value. To increase your organization’s capability to successfully deliver value entails more than just improving project management skills. It requires a holistic, value driven approach whereby every project and value delivery element is focused on delivering maximum value.

But the first step is to recognise the need – to understand that there is significant value loss on most projects – and to understand where the value is being lost and why.

And then take action.

All 22 drivers of value loss and cost increase - both visible and invisible - are described in the TOP ebook, "The TOP 5%"

Download now "THE TOP 5%"

Topics: Capability Development, Value Delivery


[1] Young, R. (2006). What is the ROI for IT project governance? Establishing a benchmark.
Retrieved 24 May 2020, from

Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (May 2010) as "Where Does The Value Go On Projects?"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections