Elusive Concept

The Elusive concept of Project Success

Groups of project managers around the world are developing a new global standard for project management for the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Terry Deacon is part of the South African contributors who meet at the SABS headquarters in Pretoria. He would like to invite our readers to respond with their comments on how project success should be defined.

Through project management the project outputs (product) are described and implemented in a controlled manner. Both project management and the project itself may be judged in terms of how well they are realised and the benefits they provide.

The table below sets out an approach to measuring project success in terms of realizing the products and benefits within the projects constraints contained in the project management plan.

Essentially it says that Project success = Product success + Project Management success.

                                                                              

Project Success

Product

Project Management

Realisation

1. The outputs of the project are delivered in compliance with the  requirements that were input to the project

3. The project management processes are performed in compliance with the performance baselines that reflect the expectations of the project stakeholders.

Benefits

 

2. The outcome of the project provides the benefits desired and exploits the opportunities that are identified by the organisation that uses the project outputs.

4. The project management processes are performed efficiently and effectively.

 


The implications of quadrants 1 to 4 above are as follows:

  1. If the project outputs (product) comply with the requirements, one could consider the project outputs (product) to be successful regardless of the way the project management processes (3. and 4.) where performed and regardless of the project outcome (2.).
  2. If the project outcome provides the benefits desired by the organisation that uses the project output and exploits the identified opportunities, one could consider the product to be beneficial regardless of the fulfillment of the requirements by the project outputs (1.) and regardless of the way the project management processes (3. and 4.) were performed.
  3. If the project management complies with the performance  baselines one could consider the project management to be successful. However, if the project management does not fulfill the requirements of the project outputs (1.), or was inefficient and ineffective (4.) the project management could not be considered successful..
  4. The project management processes should be performed efficiently and effectively as indicated by the performing organisation. If the project management complies with the performance baselines one could consider the project management (3.) to be successful regardless of the product outcome (2.), so long as the outputs of the project are delivered in compliance with the requirements (1.)

The importance of product success, product benefits, project management success and project management benefits is subject to the strategy and governance of the organisation.

What are your views on the above concept of defining project success? Please contact Terry Deacon on terry@projectpro.co.za with your comments or use our blog on www.projectpro.co.za

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