Dimensions of Project Success
Initially, thirteen separate success criteria were identified,
plus an overall project success assessment. These included: functional
performance; meeting technical specifications; meeting schedule
goal; meeting budget; fulfilling customer needs; solving a customer's
problem; the extent to which the customer is using the product;
customer satisfaction; commercial success; creating a larger market
share; creating a new market, creating a new product line; and developing
a new technology.
Pearson Correlation coefficients between all fourteen measures
were determined and studied. A not surprising result was the high
correlation between the measure of total success and customer satisfaction.
A factor analysis was then performed to ascertain the possibility
of distinct success dimensions by which managers perceived project
success. This revealed four distinct primary categories (Principal
Success Criteria) as seen at project completion. These are described
1. Internal Project Objectives (efficiency during the project)
- How successful was the project team in meeting its schedule
- How successful was the project team in meeting its budget objectives?
- How successful was the project team in managing any other resource
2. Benefit to Customer (effectiveness in the short term)
- Did the product meet its specified requirements of functional
performance and technical standards?
- What was the project's impact on the customer, and what did
the customer gain?
- Does the customer actually use the product, and are they satisfied
- Does the project's product fulfill the customer's needs, and/or
solve the problem?
3. Direct Contribution (in the medium term)
- Has the new or modified product become an immediate business
and/or commercial success, has it enhanced immediate revenue and
- Has it created a larger market share?
4. Future Opportunity (in the long term)
- Has the project created new opportunities for the future, has
it contributed to positioning the organization consistent with
its vision, goals?
- Has it created a new market or new product potential, or assisted
in developing a new technology?
- Has it contributed additional capabilities or competencies to
These Principal Success Criteria are summarized in Table
1. A cursory examination of these Principal Success Criteria
reveals that they are clearly time-dependent. This time relationship
is shown in Figure 1.
Internal Project Objectives
- Meeting schedule
- Within budget
- Other resource constraints met
Benefit to Customer
- Meeting functional performance
- Meeting technical specifications & standards
- Favorable impact on customer, customer's gain
- Fulfilling customer's needs
- Solving a customer's problem
- Customer is using product
- Customer expresses satisfaction
- Immediate business and/or commercial success
- Immediate revenue and profits enhanced
- Larger market share generated
- Will create new opportunities for future
- Will position customer competitively
- Will create new market
- Will assist in developing new technology
- Has, or will, add capabilites and competencies
Table 1: Principal Success Criteria
Figure 1: Time Dependency of Project Success (i.e. success varies
It is also not difficult to infer that, for a given project, its
perception of success may change with time. This would depend on
the elapsed time since project completion. For example, a project
could have its principal focus on creating future opportunity (Category
4). Such a project is unlikely to be viewed as successful until
such time as those opportunities have actually materialized.
It would be interesting to look at various industries to determine
appropriate intervals corresponding to "Short", "Medium"
and "Long" Term. Some sort of yardstick would also be
needed for comparison between similar types of project. The duration
of the project execution phases might provide such a yardstick.