Bill Duncan: PMBOK Definition Woefully
@Matthew: the definition of success you quoted is basically the traditional
definition ... and it is woefully deficient and outdated. First, "project success"
has two dimensions:
- Product success: did the project deliver the benefits expected?
- Project management success: was the project well-managed?
Your quoted definition addresses only the second dimension. More significantly,
project success must be measured against agreed success criteria. The baselines
seldom represent real success.
As you note in your reply, this success is from the project manager's perspective,
and from that perspective only. I agree that product success is not the direct
responsibility of the project manager, but they must still be aware of what is
needed for product success and do everything they can to deliver it. Here are
some simple examples ... the Sydney Opera House is a failed project. The Boeing 787
is a success. Really?
@Matthew: You say: "Why is everyone so anxious to take on responsibility
as project manager for something they were never asked, never involved in, and
have no role or influence in?!" I don't think that anyone is asking the project
manager to take responsibility for product success. I know I'm not.
But in point of fact, the project manager has the potential to make a substantial
contribution to product success. For the PM to ignore that potential is a step
back into the 1950s.
Let's take a look at your example: The project that you describe was a success
from Company A's perspective, but a total failure from Company B's perspective.
You are right to celebrate project management success, but not project success.
Project success must consider a broader range of stakeholders.
@Matthew: you may disagree, but if you go back and look at my first post,
you'll see that I said from the start that there were two different constructs:
product success and project management success. These two together define "project
success." The PMBoK Guide just got it
wrong this time by referring to "project management success" as "project success."
R. Duncan, Trainer and consultant; primary author of the 1996 PMBoK Guide, web
site www.pmpartners.com. Bill Duncan may
be reached by Email at email@example.com.
6. Note that what Bill is saying is that "project Success" is
the combination of both "Product Success" and "Project Management Success". However,
"Product Success" must also be defined. If it is defined as "Meeting requirements",
then well and good. However, if it is defined in terms of "Realized Benefits",
these cannot be determined until considerably later, after the project has otherwise
been completed, and therefore presumably beyond the project manager's responsibility.