This Guest paper, from which the following abstract has been drawn, was submitted for publication in November 2019, Part 1 published here February 2021.
It is copyright to Dr. Philip Crosby, CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science.

Introduction | Study Approach and Methodology 
Balancing Enthusiasm with Realism | Checking for Relevant Lessons Learned
Embracing Complexity, Ambiguity and Uncertainty | Project Mission and Success Definition
Reporting and Decision-Making Policies and Structure | Project Information Control | PART 2

Dr. Philip Crosby holds a Business Administration degree, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. His PhD dealt with improving the success of mega-science projects and divides his time between the Square Kilometer Array mega-project in the UK and project strategy at CSIRO's Division of Astronomy and Space Science in Australia. Phil has led several major technical studies, including a science impact assessment of Antarctic research stations, and a review of the Australian Nuclear Science & Technology Organization. He has published several peer-reviewed papers. He can be reached at:


Success and failure in projects is a frequent topic among both project theoreticians and practitioners. Mega-projects especially have received attention from academic authors and the popular press, often recounting performance failures in terms of cost and time overruns, which sometimes lead to fiascos.[1] Less reported are the great successes where project goals were met, budgets contained, and most importantly, the customer or users were satisfied. Regardless of outcome, each case offers a learning opportunity providing the causal factors are investigated and the lessons properly applied.

This study presumes that project success, as defined above, is not indeterminate by nature, and that undertaking certain activities, coupled with application of particular policies and launch conditions at the front end, positions a project for success. Evidence of continued high-tech project failure [2], [3], [4] indicates the need for continued research into areas contributing to project robustness.

The parameters of mega-projects are not tightly specified here, except to note that these endeavors typically have hundreds of millions or even billion-dollar budgets, timeframes usually measured in at least years, and often a high level of public or political attention. I loosely define high-tech projects as those involving research and development (R&D), a significant information technology (IT) component, application of leading-edge science/engineering technologies, and with substantial infrastructure requirements.

In this paper, I focus on the early conditions required for high-tech mega-project success, beyond the basic "givens" of project structure, funding, tools, and plans.


1. Grün, O. (2004). Taming giant projects (management of multi-organization enterprises). Berlin: Springer-Verlag.
2. Standish. (1995). The Chaos Report. The Standish Group. Retrieved June 12, 2011 from
3. Procaccino, J.D., Verner, J.M., Overmyer, S.P., & Darter, M.E. (2002). Case study: Factors for early prediction of software development success. Information and Software Technology, 44(1), 5362.
4. Crosby, P. (2014). Success in large high-technology projects: what really works? Proceedings of SPIE 9150, Modeling, Systems Engineering, and Project Management for Astronomy VI, 915002; DOI: 10.1117/12.2057972.
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