Richard Stubbs Prefers Satisfied Customers
@Max: Thank you for your comments to my post on 2/22/2013. I also have
worked in both the private and public sectors and I believe my observations are
correct with regard to delivering successful public sector projects. Projects
will be successful in both the private and public sectors if appropriate project
sponsorship is provided, and proper project management techniques and methodologies
are consistently applied. If this is not the case, the project will have problems
whether it is being executed within either a private or public sector entity.
Like private sector projects, public sector projects may also experience changes in scope, schedule and costs. If these changes are managed appropriately through the change management process, then the project will be completed successfully. This does not mean that the product of the project will be successful. For example, limited budgets may impact final scope or quality such that the resulting product does not meet the expectations of the users. However, this may also occur within the private sector.
I am familiar with the department/management behaviors within public agencies you mentioned in your response regarding: must spend any remaining budget money at the end of the fiscal year so that it is not lost to other activities in the upcoming fiscal year budget. And at the same time, ignoring cost overruns from a previous year's budget versus actual costs. You're right. These practices do occur and they are part of the culture. People have learned to manage the system to get their jobs done and projects completed.
In my experience, for the most part, meeting scope requirements and having
satisfied customers is the determination of project (and product) success. Satisfied
customers result when a project delivers a product that meets the needs of the
customer and is useable. Schedule and cost components are important; you don't
want to take forever and you don't want to break the bank, otherwise no one will
be satisfied. But these components are less important to the overall determination
of success if scope and customer satisfaction are achieved. Meeting schedule and
cost goals enhances success, but not delivering on scope and not achieving customer
satisfaction are much greater detractors to overall success than missing on schedule
and cost goals.
The definition of project success from the PMBOK 5th edition presented by Matthew in the opening comments of this discussion, I believe, is a good definition from a PMBOK perspective. The PMBOK addresses generally recognized project management knowledge and practices. The PMBOK was not intended to address product management knowledge and practices, and, therefore, there is no reason for the PMBOK to include product success within the definition of, nor as a factor for, project success.
I understand that project management success and product success are logically separate results, but in many cases the success of one is strongly linked to the other, especially in the eyes of management. It is the responsibility of the product manager to define the product and the project manager to deliver the best possible outcome given the constraints of scope, schedule, cost, quality, resources and risks. In order to deliver a successful project, I believe the project manager must have a personal stake and vision in the success of the project and product.
The project manager's role, as a key communicator between the sponsor/product manager/stakeholders/customer, has an obligation to identify and communicate issues and risks with the project. That includes risks to the product that may cause the product to fall short of meeting necessary scope and user expectations. Project success then, in this case, can only be achieved with product success. However, a project manager might find it very difficult to convince management that a project was successful if the product failed. That's because the project manager should have been able to identify, communicate and mitigate (through the change control process) the issues and risks that led to product failure long before the project was completed.
7. Richard Stubbs: Experienced Project Manager, PMP Certification