By Theresa Zandi
We are consistently asked the question, “How would you define technology project success and what does it look like?” We all know that on time, on budget and on scope are the effective elements of a good project, but what if you meet all three criteria and the end result does not satisfy the need. Start at the beginning. When we look at a project, the most important element is defining the scope. According to the Project Management Institute, the basic definition of project management revolves around three parameters: time, budget, and scope. The more information we gather, the more issues and challenges are resolved. What is the end goal of the project? How will the project be utilized by the business? We strive to understand the project in its greatest detail in order to build a quality scope. Defining the budget is generally easier because most firms begin with a basic understanding of the project budget that they are willing to spend. And, on time is a critical function of project management holding all team members to deadlines and flexing where possible. Let’s look into the elements of project success deeper.
Success from a Project Management Perspective
Beyond the standard schedule, budget, and scope is quality. The quality of the project is typically assessed in a post-project review, which determines if the project was an overall success based on whether the project was completed on time, if it was within the set budget, and that it conforms with predetermined performance specifications. If each of these elements was achieved within the specifications of the client, then the project is considered a success. Keep in mind that the project itself, the project manager, the project team, and the project governance stakeholders are all taken into consideration when determining if a project is successful.
The main value in project management is to offer a direct measure of performance of the project and the management expertise that was applied to complete the project within the design parameters. Although this is true, the value has limitations. For instance, it only focuses on the means of the investment rather than if the deliverable did its job. Due to this limitation, two additional criteria are suggested when measuring success, including measures of project deliverable or the product success/business success.
Success from a Product Perspective
The truth is, completing a project within scope does not necessarily mean it is a sufficient measure of project success. In order for it to truly be a success, the client must accept and use the project as it is and be beneficial to their business. You can do everything right, complete the project on time, within budget, and within scope, but the possibility of failing is still evident if you lack user acceptance.
Technology project success is split into two parts: 1) success of creating the project, and 2) satisfaction of the product and its effectiveness in benefitting the users. As important as it is to follow all of the steps in creating a project, product success post-project is just as important. If the product fails, then so does the project.
Success from a Process Perspective
Process success is the criteria that considers technical and managerial processes involving project management. This is considered to be a lower level criterion, but it provides a basis of critique and improvement of project processes. For example, in IT, the processes in development and deployment are reviewed post-project and it is determined if project management was a success. These post-project reviews typically consider if the correct processes were selected and applied appropriately and if they achieved the objectives of the project. This criterion gives a detailed examination of the project performance, which leads to learning and improving further processes.
Success from a Business Perspective
The measure of business success is also determined by schedule, time, cost, and quality; however, it is also measured by the degree to which objectives are met and how the company benefits financially. In other words, the objectives of the project relate to the goals of the project plan, and business objectives directly relate to the goals of the business plan. Both of these plans need to positively reflect each other in order to have a successful project. If the project doesn’t deliver the proper solutions that it was intended to carry out for the business, then the project is viewed as a failure.
Business success does take into consideration that project management practices or project deliverable could be inadequate, yet the project is still considered a success if the business objectives are met. There are many factors that determine technology project success. You could have failures throughout, but if the outcome is positive for your business, then it is considered successful.
Finally, the strategic success criteria represents the highest level of benefit achieved by a project. This is recognized by investors, peers, competitors, or even the general public, if applicable. Strategic success grants benefits that favor the company for future opportunities. This is considered the highest level of benefit, even if there are mistakes against lower level criteria. The fact is, it is the confirmation that a project delivered an outstanding end result.
There are many factors that determine what project success looks like. The truth is, success is much more than being on time, within budget, and on scope. Even with these key elements, there is still room for error. If you have any project-oriented questions, feel free to reach out. Good luck out there.
About Centurion Consulting Group
Centurion Consulting Group, LLC, a Woman-Owned Small Business headquartered in Herndon, VA conveniently located near Washington D.C., is a national IT Services consulting firm servicing the public and private sector by delivering relevant solutions for our client’s complex business and technology challenges. Our leadership team has over 40 years of combined experience, to include almost 10 years of direct business partnership, to the IT staffing, federal contracting, and professional services industries. Centurion’s leaders have the demonstrated experience over the past three decades in partnering with over 10,000 consultants and hundreds of clients –from Fortune 100 to Inc. 5000 firms –in multiple industries to include banking, education, federal, financial, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, non-profit, state and local, technology, and telecommunications. www.centurioncg.com