Discriminating contexts and project management best practices on innovative and noninnovative projects



Managing an innovation project (i.e., a project that produces a new product or that involves a new concept or a new technology) is hypothesized as being different from managing projects that produce a standard product with low innovative content using few innovative technologies. If this hypothesis is true, different processes or more strict and extensive use of well-known practices will be required, and specific tools and techniques will be adopted to execute these processes. This article explores the use of 91 project management practices. The data set consists of 734 responses from experienced project managers and program directors. The article compares innovative project contexts and practices with low innovative environments. Best practices are identified by examining which practices and contexts discriminate between high- and low-performing organizations. This article reveals that maturity in project management processes is strongly associated with a high project success rate for the entire sample. The participation of the project manager or program director during the front end of the project is shown to be one of the principal factors discriminating high-performing organizations delivering innovation projects. Availability of competent personnel as well as practices that enhance project definition also discriminate between high and low performers on innovative projects.