This paper is the fourth 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 November 2014.

PART 3 | Some of the Things that Contributors Said About Success
More Contributors' Thoughts on Project Success | Confusion Abounds
The Meaning of the Term "Project Management"
The Meaning of "Program Management" | "Project Portfolio Management"

Editor's Note:

In Parts 1, 2 and 3 we captured what we believed to be 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. In this Part 4, we conclude by drawing out what we believe to be the essential lessons and what we believe needs to be done to remove a lot of misunderstanding when describing project management situations in terms of success.

But first here is a brief reminder of some of the key statements.

Some of the Things That Contributors Said About Success

Project success must be measured against agreed success criteria. The baselines seldom represent real success.

— Bill Duncan

If there is a feeling in the organization that the project was not a success, even if it delivered everything expected and defined — then it was not a success.

— Spyros Lecouras

Note that PMBOK does not talk about "project management" success. It explicitly talks about project success.

— Matthew Weaver

I define project success simply as the customer saying 'It does what I wanted. I got it on time and at the cost I said I'd pay for it'.

— Geoff W.

Remember, the Project is a Temporary Endeavour. It may have a long History and a long Future, but both of these are excluded from the project.

— Kailash Kant

Success is achieving an agreed upon set of outcomes. End game success may look different from what was initially proposed. The definition of "success" may change over the course of a project for a variety of reasons.

— Mark Moore

The PMBoK is about project management, not product management. It is extremely difficult to predict cost and schedule when key aspects of scope are only discovered long after the initial planning.
My projects have run the gamut of working very closely with the end customers/users to having little of noting to do with them. It all depended on the products and the organizational structure.

— Vince McGevna

The management and executives of most organizations tend not to make a distinction between the project and the product (this is especially true for organizations that are not mature with respect to project management). So it is not unusual for a "successful" project to be labeled as "unsuccessful" if the end product turns out to be not as effective as anticipated for reasons beyond the scope of the project.
It's all about how our projects are defined. A properly defined project must have a clear and specific completion point with which all involved parties agree.

— Larry Moore

If, upon completion of the project, all of the critical success factors have been met, the project is successful; there is no quibbling about this and the matter is settled.

— Larry Moore

A project manager doesn't always have the influence to dictate the best product all they can do is get the most out of whatever it is.

— Ray Funck


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