The purpose of modern project management is to conduct a successful
project. If the meaning of success was generally agreed, and this
could be related to a satisfactory project typology, this relationship
would significantly help those responsible for formulating projects.
It would be especially constructive for those contemplating projects
for the first time.
Historically, project management responded to the need to create
civil and building works of some complexity. In the 1950s project
management achieved greater prominence when the planning and control
concepts were applied to much more complex projects such as those
of the US navy and, subsequently, NASA space projects. In the last
couple of decades, project management has emerged as a business
process tool with broad application in the corporate world. It is
seen as the management approach of choice for dealing with an ever-shifting
business environment, rapid technological change, and the vicissitudes
of stiff global competition.
Today, it is even more of a truism that "Projects come in
all shapes and sizes!" We have a much improved understanding
of project management tools and techniques, and this decade has
focused on the importance of the behavioral and organizational aspects
of projects. Yet relatively little focus has been given to the meaning
of success. Even less, one suspects, are measurable success criteria
identified and tailored to the type of project at the time of formulation.
In days gone by, the old axiom "On time, on budget" and
(for the more advanced thinkers) "conformance to requirements"
was deemed the mark of success. Yet the literature is rife with
examples of projects that were either completed late or finished
over budget, and were still considered successful. Less well documented
are all those projects that were completed on time and within budget
but stand as a monument to ineptitude.
Clearly, the old adage of on time, on budget and (even) conformance
to requirements are not, of themselves, satisfactory success criteria.
The reality is that the notion of "success", and "project
success" in particular, is a much more complex issue. The purpose
of this paper is to demonstrate the most important dimensions of
success and how these relate to different types of project.