To gain the value from a successful project it is essential to define the success criteria clearly and also measure them. Defining project success is not necessarily easy, often a project is considered as successful if it is completed within the time allotted, on budget and within the scope defined. However if objectives are not clear then this can be subjective and fraught with complexity.

What is Project Success?

Companies which have clearly defined (and measurable) success criteria utilize many various key parameters, Business Success, Project Management Success and Technical Success. These high level parameters also cover the usual factors such as on time delivery, on scope and within budget and also the aspects of business benefits, alignment with business goals, satisfaction of project stakeholders etc. Thus project success does not necessarily end at delivering the product or service in line with the initial requirements gathered alone.

Measuring Project Success

Business benefits accrued due to the successful project delivery need to be measured in line with the original business case. This is usually done in during post-implementation reviews, but often this is not done in sufficient depth (an all to often gets missed completely).

Project success can also vary on the basis of the project type, organization type etc. But the clearer the definition of success and the measurement methods the greater would be the probability of project success. The aspects that help in project success are:

1/ Documentation of the project success criteria. (Check out our templates for further help on this).
2/ Agreement between all the project stakeholders on the success criteria
3/ On a regular basis the project progress needs to be measured against the success criteria
4/ Modify project so as to achieve success criteria

For a project to be considered a success, it should meet the success criteria laid out at the beginning of the project by the stakeholders. These success criteria should be measurable and trackable else it is not possible to verify whether the project has met the criteria or not and the desired benefits achieved.

Success Criteria essentially falls under two heads – project success and deliverable success.
1/ Project success: This relates to all the different aspects which are concerned with the project execution – the processes, the documents needed for sign off, project management and so on. These aspects are tightly linked to the project management and help to address the business angle of project management.

2/ Deliverable Success; These address the project deliverables such as the project outcomes, achievements etc and related to the business case behind the project. This essentially address the project achievements and the objectives.
To come up with the project success criteria, the project outcomes and objectives need to be listed as per the two subheads.

To measure project success it is important to establish a baseline for the current work processes and then revisit them once the project is completed. This would help in identifying the project’s overall effectiveness. For measuring the project success criteria both discrete and continuous measurement should be used. Discrete essentially is a direct yes or no whereas continuous is as percentage or a scale measurement. Continuous measurements can be modified to become discrete too for easier assessment of project success.

Thus ensuring that the project success criteria are identified correctly, tracked and measured one can be assured of a conclusive project success assessment.

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