This paper is the first 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 August 2014.

Editor's Note | PMBOK Definition Woefully Deficient | PMBOK Definition Not Deficient
Project and Product Management Not the Same | PMBOK Fine So Far as it Goes
Useful References | What Wikipedia Has to Say | Success Has Multiple Dimensions | PART 2

Matthew Weaver: PMBOK Definition Not Deficient

@Bill: The PMBOK definition is not woefully deficient or outdated. This is project success in terms of the project from the project manager's perspective. There is nothing wrong or incomplete about this. Product success is not in the project manager's scope of control or responsibility, never was. It is a completely different topic and is the sole purview of the sponsor.

I think it is very important to consider our focus. As a project manager there is only so much we have responsibility or control over. Do you really want to be assessed based on senior management and your sponsors wild idea that you had no input on or influence over? Seriously, a bad idea, delivered well is a successful project. Otherwise, if you claim as part of your measure of success, the bad idea, then you get punished at review for it, you get demoted, and maybe even fired. Again, for something you had zero visibility or role in. No, PMBOK has it right. You cannot, and it is not fair to judge your success on factors outside your influence. From the project manager's perspective, the only possible measures are scope, schedule, cost, etc.

Think of it this way, company B contracts with company A to deliver product X for $1M on x date. You get assigned by your management, who won the contract to do the work. Your team delivers X on budget and on time. Maybe you have even addressed $500K of change requests, also on budget and on time. By all accounts for your company and for you, the project is a success. Right? What else do you have to do with it?

Later, if you read in the news that company B filed for bankruptcy after releasing product X to a market that had zero interest in it, is that your fault? Does that change the success you and your company celebrated? I think not. 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?!

@Bill: I completely disagree with you on all points. Project, and project management if you insist, success is defined by scope, schedule, cost, etc. Instead, product, service, or result success is what you are talking about. These two things are very, very different. Note, by the way, PMBOK does not talk about "project management" success. It explicitly talks about project success. Nowhere does the PMBOK talk about "project management success". They are talking about project success, and not product success that you are so keen to discuss instead.

If you want to talk separately about product, service, or result success, then that would be a good topic of discussion. And in that separate discussion we could explore what the project manager's role and responsibilities are and are not.

PMBOK Definition Woefully Deficient  PMBOK Definition Woefully Deficient

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