Adopting the Right Targets
According to the Chaos report, 28% of projects were successful in their 2000 study. I'm surprised it's that high given that "success" means that time, budget, and scope plans had to be made. This definition of success leaves no room for business priorities. What if there is an absolute business priority that a project is to be delivered by some date?
I've been associated with projects where virtually millions of dollars were being lost for each day it was late. Who cares if that project is $10,000 or even $100,000 over budget? Sure, it would be "nice" if the cost budget was met, but project managers who are driven to excel in multiple dimensions - all at the same time - often end up missing their most critical objective.
Every project manager strives to meet targets. But why stop with three: budget, time, and scope? There are 50 other targets - from defect levels to software's maintainability. Maybe maintainability is worth a few dollars cost overrun or an additional week of design time.
There are always priorities to juggle, and the effective project manager finds out what the relative business priorities are and works to those priorities. Meeting cost, scope, and schedule targets are certainly laudable goals, but are they really the true measure of success? If they were, then few would be engaging in software projects anymore because they only have a 28% chance of success.