What Exactly Is a Successful Project

You would think it would be relatively straightforward to describe the attributes of a successful project. Well, let's just say this endeavor has kept more than a few "spin doctors," "politicians," and "history revisionists" employed throughout organizations across our great land. Why is this the case? There are several reasons for this.

• There is a lack of universal harmony of what comprises project success metrics. It seems that every project management educational source and organizational process maturity standard has a slightly different definition of project success.

• For many projects, the acceptance and success criteria are never established or agreed to by all key stakeholders.

• In many cases, an organization may define a project as successful even when some of the textbook criteria for project success (such as schedule, cost, client expectations) are not completely met.

• In other cases, a "cancelled" project may be a "successful" project if there was a plan for one or more "go/no-go" decision points.

From a utopian, academic standpoint, the "ultimate" successful project would be defined as a project that:

• Delivered as promised Project produced all the stated deliverables.

• Completed on-time Project completed within the approved schedule.

• Completed within budget Project completed under the approved budget.

• Delivered quality Project deliverables met all functional, performance, and quality specifications.

• Achieved original purpose The project achieved its original goals, objectives, and purpose.

• Met all stakeholder expectations The complete expectations of each key stakeholder were met, including all client acceptance criteria, and each key stakeholder accepts the project results without reservation.

• Maintains "win-win" relationships The needs of the project are met with a "people focus" and do not require sacrificing the needs of individual team members or vendors. Participants on successful projects should be enthusiastic when the project is complete and eager to repeat a similar experience.

An excellent technique is to identify, document, review, and approve any criteria that will be used to measure the success of the project during the project definition and planning processes.


Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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