Project Selection and Go/No-Go Decisions
The literature generally assumes that a project has come out of planned consideration within an organization. There are different circumstances where a project is driven by extreme contexts such as emergency contexts, risky contexts, and disrupted contexts. In reality, the selection process for projects is "complex, less structured, and affected by chance". It is often influenced by biased or insufficient analysis as well as political priorities.
Project purpose & success criteria
It goes without saying, that within an organization any project or program should have its goals and objectives in line with the organization's strategic plan. The "fit" between an organization's strategic drivers of value and the configuration of its project management system helps determine the value it obtains from project management. So, central to the definition of a project is what we mean by project "success", which turns out to be an "ambiguous, inclusive, and multidimensional concept".
In practice, there is no definition of "success" that applies to all projects in all environments. The definition is dependent on perception and personal objectives and varies by project types, stages of the project life cycle, and nationalities. Moreover, public and private parties do not share a common perception of project success. Due to the multifaceted nature of project success, of which only some criteria are clearly quantifiable, it is typically not straightforward to measure success in projects.
In the front-end phase, we are in the process of project definition ahead of formal sanction. Initially, we have needs that we (and other stakeholders) require to have satisfied. Success is therefore defined as the satisfaction of those needs. These can be described as project outcome success on the one hand, or project benefit success on the other.
[It is interesting to note here that in The Report, the authors tend to fall into the same trap like so many, namely that of confusing the difference between managing the project (process) and managing the development of the product (asset). These are not the same thing, indeed, far from it.]
Thus, project success criteria may be divided into tactical and strategic performance. Success in tactical terms typically means meeting the short-term goals of scope, quality, time and cost. These are measures of the project's management efficiency, and are fundamentally project management issues. Strategic success, on the other hand, focuses more on economic, societal and environmental matters. These embrace the broader and longer-term perspective of whether the project's outcome (asset) will have a sustainable influence and remain fit and compelling over the asset's lifespan.
In this approach, the project's success may be characterized by five main criteria. Only the
first criteria reflects on the project management operational element.
- Efficiency effectiveness: Could the outputs have been produced in a better way? Was the project well managed? Were the goals achieved? Did the output meet the goals?
- Relevance: was the goal aligned with the needs of the organization, and was the product in context and useful to the organization?
- Impact: Was the goal appropriate to the purpose of the organization?
- Side effects (risks): What was the sum of the anticipated/unintended effects of the project?
- Sustainability: Will the positive impacts of the project continue longer-term?
14. Ibid, section 4.1.3, p7
15. Ibid, section 4.2, p8-9