Project Management Success
What is project management success? Is it the success of the project
or the success of the product? The two are not necessarily the same. It
is also important to note that the impression of success can change with time.
That certain objectives, e.g. that the "traditional measures" of being on time
and within budget were not met, does not necessarily mean that the product
of the project was a failure. Conversely, just because the management of the project
was viewed as a great success does not mean that the resulting product will necessarily
be viewed as a success if the expected benefits are not realized. There are many
examples of such situations in the project management literature.
Therefore, Project Success is a multi-dimensional construct
that inevitably means different things to different people. As a matter of good
practice, Success is best expressed at the beginning of a project in terms
of key and measurable criteria, referred to as metrics, upon which the
relative success or failure of the project may be judged. For example, those results
- Meet the key objectives of the project such as the business objectives of
the sponsoring organization in the realization of benefits for the owner or user,
- Elicit satisfaction with the project management process, i.e. that the deliverable
is complete, up to standard, is on time and within budget, and
- Reflect general acceptance and satisfaction with the project's deliverable
on the part of the project's customers-at-large and/or the majority of the project's
community at some time in the future.
Although also known as Key Performance Indicators, we like to refer to these
criteria as Key Success Indicators (KSIs).
KSIs should clearly relate to the project's key objectives and help in evaluating
customer satisfaction and overall, the success of the project. KSIs are usually
expressed as "SMART" statements, i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable,
Realistic and Time bound.
Note that KSIs are not the same as Critical Success Factors (CSFs).
CSFs are those measurable factors that when present in the project's environment
are most conducive to the achievement of a successful project. Examples include:
Project objectives aligned with corporate mission; Top management support; A culture
of open communication, and so on. The difference between KSIs and CSFs is that
KSIs are dynamic and within the control of the project's management while CSFs
are static and generally outside the direct control of the project's management.
Project Management Success is closely linked to opportunity and
risk. Projects by their nature are risky endeavors and some project hazards
cannot be entirely avoided or mitigated even when identified. Since project success
may be impacted by risk events, it follows that both opportunity and risk
are necessarily shared amongst the participants.
Aaron J., Dov Dvir and Ofer Levy, Project Success: A multidimensional Strategic
Concept, Research paper, University of Minnesota, MN, June 1995.
19.This is a composite of ideas reflected in various success
factors and indicators. See the definition in the Wideman Comparative Glossary
of Project Management Terms: metrics
20. See the definition in the Wideman Comparative Glossary of
Project Management Terms: KSI
- key success indicators
21. See the definition in the Wideman Comparative Glossary of
Project Management Terms: CSF
- critical success factors