What is Success?
As noted in the Introduction, success is more than just "on
time, on budget and conformance to requirements". Success means
(gaining) advantage, superiority, victory, accomplishment, achievement,
added value. But all of these are perceptions, so how can they be
related to project work?.
Over the years, this intriguing question has been studied by a
number of project management authors such as Ashley, Lurie, and
Jaselskis; Baker, Murphy
and Fisher; De Wit;
Dvir and Shenhar; Hayfield;
Morris and Hough; Pinto
and Slevin; and others.
For example, in 1988 Pinto and Slevin concluded from their research
work that "Project success is a complex and often illusory
construct, but nonetheless it is of crucial importance to effective
project implementation." and "Project success is suggested
to have two major components: issues dealing with the project itself
and issues dealing with the client." In addition, Pinto and
Slevin stressed "... the necessity of developing an adequate
program in terms of knowing when to determine project success."
The Project Management Institute attempted to capture this concept
in 1987 when it defined project management as the art of directing
resources to meet objectives, but included the goal of "participant
PMI's latest version of A Guide to the Project Management Body of
Knowledge (Exposure Draft - 1994) the term "participant"
has been broadened by the use of the word "stakeholder".
In the Draft, "stakeholder" has been given a very broad
definition, namely: "Individuals and organizations who are
involved in or may be affected by project activities." Presumably,
that includes not just the project activities but the facility or
product resulting from those activities.
Indeed, as long ago as 1980, Burnett and Youker, in analyzing the
project environment, identified a process called "stakeholder
mapping". That is, mapping out which people or groups have
a stake in the project's success or failure.
These people ranged from the project's owners and sponsors to those
who might be marginally (yet critically) affected by the project.
If a project is to be perceived as successful, then its stakeholders
must be satisfied. Since this encompasses a wide range of people,
they may not all be equally satisfied but at least they should be
satisfied in some degree, or in the majority. For public or competitive
projects, this is a major consideration. It is typically the driving
force behind a strenuous public relations effort and an imaginative
public launch and promotion of the facility or product upon project
Ashley, D.B., C.S. Lurie & E.J. Jaselskis, Determinants of Construction
Project Success, Project Management Journal XVIII, 2, 1987, pp69-79.
2. Baker, B.N., D.C. Murphy & D. Fisher, Factors
Affecting Project Success, Project Management Handbook (ed D.I. Cleland
& W.R. King, Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY, 1983, pp669-685.
3. de Wit, A., Measuring Project Success: An Illusion,
Proceedings, Project Management Institute, 1986, pp13-21.
4. Dvir, D. & L. Dyer, Measuring the success of
technology-based strategic business units, Engineering Management
Journal, 4, 4, 1992, pp33-38.
5. Hayfield, F., Project success and failures, Proceedings
of the 8th World Congress on Project management, Internet, Rotterdam,
6. Morris, P.W.G., & G.H. Hough, The preconditions
of success and failure in major projects, Technical Paper #3, Major
Projects Association, Templeton College, Oxford, 1986.
7. Pinto, J.K. & D.P. Slevin, Project Success:
Definitions and Measurement Techniques, Project Management Journal
#19, Project Management Institite, 1988, pp67-75.
8. Pinto, Jeffrey K., and Dennis P. Slevin, Project
Success: Definitions and Measurement Techniques, Project Management
Journal, vol xix, No. 1, Project Management Institute, Upper Darby,
PA, 1988, pp70-71.
9. Wideman, R. Max, Project Management Body of Knowledge,
Project Management Institute, Upper Darby, PA, 1987, Glossary of Terms,
10. PMI Standards Committee, A Guide to the Project
Management Body of Knowledge (Exposure Draft), Project Management
Institute, Upper Darby, PA, 1994, p3.
11. Burnett, Nicholas R., and Robert Youker, Analyzing
the Project Environment, World Bank, Washington, DC, 1980, EDI Course
Notes CN-848, p4.