How to Measure Project Success

How to Measure Project Success

Project success has always been measured through the triple constraint of budget, scope and time, but how is it best to measure whether a project is successful or not?

It would be a perfect project if all three of these elements were to be equally balanced, combined with quality and customer satisfaction, however, in the current economic climate it is more likely that the measurement of the success of a project comes down to cost, with automatic scope and time constraints.

However, if a project comes in on budget but ultimately doesn’t fit the end user’s requirements, how can this be regarded as successful?

Although cutting costs might make room for innovation and financial data is easier to measure, it is just as likely to mean that corners are cut, adherence to original business requirement is ignored, and quality is compromised.

If a team is accused of creating poor quality work despite being under intense financial pressure, their motivation drops and their work output suffers.

In some situations the project time frame may be the more crucial factor to focus on.

If for example a new product has to hit the shelves within a small timeframe to gain a competitive advantage, scope and budget will take a back seat, and measuring how quickly the project team gets the product on mainstream shelves will be how the project is deemed successful or not.

However in most cases it is detrimental to a project to focus on a single element, and in doing so the team risks end user dissatisfaction.

So how should success be measured?

It is important to remember that factors such as time, cost and scope are linked to project outputs, whereas other factors such as end user adoption, benefits realisation, quality of delivery, meeting business objectives, and stakeholder satisfaction, are related to business outcomes.

If a project output mirrors business outcomes with a good ROI for the business, it would largely be deemed as successful.

As PMI states “based on today’s project environments, Project Managers need to broaden their perspective to include other criteria to satisfy stakeholders and deliver business results”.

It is recommended that an organisation measure all projects they undertake to the same standard, allowing an appropriate margin for any changes outside project team control.

By standardising reports across the board, a company can understand it’s overall project success rate, and can also determine common reasons as to why a project was unsuccessful – thereby working to eliminate these reasons in any future projects.

How do you measure the success of your projects?

Source: The Learning People