Four Less Obvious Ways to Judge Project Success

Sunday, March 27, 2016, 6:00 AM | Leave Comment

Ah, the ubiquitous triple constraint of project management. Every project must be on time, within budget, in scope (and meet quality standards).

Adjust one element of the triple constraint and the other elements must shift accordingly.

Meeting the triple constraint is often the only measure of project success, when other factors should be considered as well.

These additional success factors should be listed in the Project Charter or other initiation documents.

In fact, some projects can hit expectations for schedule, budget and scope – and still be considered less than successful.

Here are some other aspects of the project that can be used to judge overall project success.

Four Less Obvious Ways to Judge Project Success

  1. Are some factors more important – and did you hit that them?

    It is not always the case that you need to hit schedule, budget and scope to be successful. Sometimes one or two elements are most important.

    For instance, you may have a hard date constraint that cannot be missed. You may hit the deadline date by going over budget and delivering less than full scope. This may be successful. Or you may have a fixed budget that must be hit – even if you have to reduce scope and deliver late to hit the budget.

  2. Is the customer happy?

    One of the best indicators of success on a project is when a customer is happy with the results – whether that client is internal or external to the organization.

    “But,” you may ask, “what if the project went over budget and past its scheduled due date?” When that happens, it doesn’t mean the project failed.

    In many cases there customer understands the challenges the team encountered and may even appreciate a heroic effort to finish.

    For example, you may have a contract to paint your home. Both the cost of paint and labor ran over budget. Rain may have forced more downtime than you wanted. However, you can still be very satisfied with a good painting job even if it was over budget and past the deadline.

  3. Would the project sponsor want to work with your team again?

    Projects can get a little rough and tumble as people with different personalities, skill sets, expectations, and experience come together to complete a project.

    There may be moments of exhilaration and despair. Does the sum total of these experiences net out to a positive? Ask your sponsor if she had a future project, and she had a choice, would she use your team again. If the answer is “yes” – it is a sign of success.

  4. Were the project objectives met?

    Project objectives signify what you are trying to achieve. They also provide guidance for project success.

    For example if you have five agreed project objectives, and you successfully complete all five, your project can be viewed a success. This may be in spite of going over budget and past your deadline date.

There’s more to judging project success than just being on time, within budget, and in scope.

The triple constraint is the foundation of project management, but not the end-all, be-all of project success.

Ask yourself these four questions and you’ll find your projects reaching an even greater degree of success!

Courtesy of…

This column is © copyright to and originally appeared in their weekly project management tip newsletter.

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