This paper is the second of a four-part series in which an attempt has been made to capture the collective wisdom of the leading participants in an extended LinkedIn discussion over the first six months of 2014. The actual original texts have been edited for grammar and spelling to make for easier reading online. The observations quoted are the opinions and property of the contributors as noted.

Published here September 2014.

PART 1 | Introduction | Stan Krupinski - Andrzej Wardaszka | Richard Stubbs
Brian Phillips | Max Wideman Introduces KPIs and KSIs | David Willcox | David Hatch
Larry Moore - Cliona O'Hanrahan | Mounir Ajam | PART 3

David Hatch[14] Takes a More Personal View

I agree with David Poll's remark, the only true measure of project success is "How the organization you work for defines Project Success?". Perhaps this is easier to grasp for those of us who are freelance project managers, but basically for us it comes down to "Is the client happy?"', and "'Are they going to hire me again?".

Therefore, I put a lot more emphasis perhaps than a permanent project manager on finding out what the client expectations are for the project or programme and establishing clear measures that provide proof that the project has delivered.

Everything else is a secondary consideration, and I think a lot of project managers get confused between measures based on whether they did a good job of managing and controlling the project and measures based on whether the project was a success.

The Olympic Games analogy is a perfect example:

  • Did everything go according to plan? Obviously not!
  • Did everyone do a good job? Probably not.
  • Did everyone get what they wanted? Unlikely not.
  • But were the games a success? The consensus seems to be that they were.

The interesting unanswered question is of course, what were the real measures of success in the first place? I suspect that they were never published in the public domain. As the report says, we wait with bated breath to find out what the mysterious legacy benefits will be and who will benefit from them.

I define my success as meeting the expectations of my clients. They define what constitutes the success of their project and decide whether the project has met those criteria. So my success is based on satisfying that expectation.

@Larry: I think David W's Captain Cook story highlights an important issue that is often ignored in discussions about project management. Whilst Larry is technically right in what he says he has actually missed the subtle point being made. The owner of the project (e.g. The Government) are trying to set up a colony on an uninhabited Island. That is their project and the measure of success for that project is that the colony is well established in two years time.

Cook has been appointed to deliver the livestock to seed the island for habitation. He is the project manager responsible for that stage of the project, but he isn't responsible for the delivery of the entire project. Just the part he has been contracted to do. However, the success of the project will still be measured by the governments overall goal of establishing a colony on the island.

In other words Cook can succeed as a project manager, but the client can still end up considering the project a failure. And by implication the reverse can also be true. Cook might have delivered the livestock to the wrong island, late, or not at all, and the settlement might still have thrived.

David Willcox  David Willcox

14. David Hatch Experienced Programme/Project Manager
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