This paper was submitted for publication 11/22/05 and is copyright to Brian K. Willard © 2005.
Published here June 2006.

Abstract | Introduction | What is Project Management | Project Creation
Project Success - As Commonly Measured | Project Success - A Different View
Project Success and Failures | Project Success - New Metrics and Measurements

Project Success - As Commonly Measured

So, what constitutes project success? As the previously listed definitions of project management show, many individuals define project management as meeting the budget, meeting the time schedule, and conforming to the requirements. This prevalence is so ingrained, that the Standish Group has gathered statistics since 1994 on projects in IT that succeeded, failed or were "challenged" on these criteria.

"The Standish Group categorizes projects into three resolutions types:
  1. Successful: The project is completed on time and on budget, with all features and functions originally specified.
  2. Challenged: The project is completed and operational, but over-budget, over the time estimate, and with fewer features and functions than initially specified.
  3. Failed: The project is cancelled before completion or never implemented."[17] (Standish Group)

According to the 2001 extreme CHAOS report, the following graph shows that only 16-28% of the projects examined are considered a success.

Figure 1: Project resolution history, 1994 to 2000
Figure 1: Project resolution history, 1994 to 2000

With an average success rate of less than 30%, why are so many projects started? Or a better question is: Why allow projects that are "Challenged", the largest percentage, to be fully implemented? There must obviously be benefits to those organizations that are implementing such projects when such a large percentage of "Challenged" projects continue to completion.

Project Creation  Project Creation

17. Standish Group, Extreme CHAOS (2001), pp 2, Available On-Line at:
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