This paper is the third 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 October 2014.

PART 2 | Introduction | Max Wideman's Thoughts for Further Discussion
Larry Moore | Max Wideman Intervenes with Other Suggestions
Larry Moore | Vince McGevna | Brian Phillips
Mounir Ajam - Cliona O'Hanrahan | David Hatch | PART 4

Editor's Note:

As in Parts 1 and 2, the following extracts are intended to capture the most valuable ideas about identifying project success as expressed in the discussion that took place on LinkedIn between February 17 and May 9, 2014. As in the previous parts, we have chosen only those whom we feel have made a significant contribution. Because we have summarized contributor comments over an extended period, the conversational thread is not always exactly chronological.

In this part of the discussion, contributors' thoughts turned to the organizational environment that typically gives birth to a project. Could that affect the success of the outcome and, if so, how?


Matthew Weaver, PMP, CSM, ITIL[1] started off the LinkedIn conversation with the question:

"How do you define project success?"

Matthew then followed his own question with this observation:

While I realize this is a recurring topic,[2] I note this morning as I work through the PMBOK[3] 5th edition, that they have added a new section "Project Success" (page 35) that clarifies rather succinctly the definition of project success and the project manager's role in it:

"Success of the project should be measured in terms of completing the project within the constraints of scope, time, cost, quality, resources, and risks as approved between the project managers [sic] and senior management."

Later, the PMBOK authors write:

"Project success should be referred to the last baselines approved by the authorized stakeholders."

Nowhere is the project manager responsible for whether the project is a good idea or not, wanted or not, etc. In fact, according to PMBOK page 32, it is the responsibility of the project's sponsor to promote the project, not the project manager.


1. For more information about Matthew Weaver and his work, visit his web site at You can reach him by Email at, or call toll free (855) 871-9246 (USA).
2. In fact if you do a Google search for "Project Success" you are likely to get over five million responses and if you search with "Defining Project Success" you could get around eleven million responses. These figures suggest that either the subject has been worn to death or there is a lot of room for differences of opinion and hence that the answer to the question is far from precise.
3. PMBOK® stands for the Project Management Institute's A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) Now in its 5th edition, Pennsylvania, 2013.
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