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How do you define project success?

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How do you define project success?

Project success is what we all strive for. Yet, that may be a moving target based on the wants, needs and preferences of your corporate leadership or your project customer. Some say, “make it profitable” and voila...you're a success. Some say, deliver on time and you're a success. Some want both. Same say it's all about customer satisfaction...which often has an element of the other two in it. Usually, if you are delivering late or way over budget, the customer isn't likely going to be too satisfied either. Some even say it's all about quality and there is certainly an argument that can be made for that.

For me three major concepts: on-time delivery, on-budget delivery, and customer satisfaction.

On-time delivery


Usually, this is everybody's first go-to measure of project success. Are we delivering tasks, deliverables, milestones on time? Are we meeting the schedule expectations of our client and management? If we are, then often we have a satisfied customer and they're happy until they learn something different...like we are we off budget. They likely won't know about any budget issues unless we are giving them weekly updates on the status of the project financials or if we bring it to their attention that there are project budget issues.

On-budget delivery


Next, let's consider the budget as a measure of project success. The key on any project for every project manager is to watch the budget closely. Too many project managers set the budget and then rarely revisit it unless asked about it. If you find out halfway through the project that you are 60 percent over budget, it may be nearly impossible to fix at that point. If you find out early on that you are 10 percent over budget, then it is likely very fixable or at least manageable and once you know there is an issue, stay on top of it.

Customer satisfaction


“You're only as successful as your last customer thinks you are.” - that's motto.