The Real Success Factors in Project Management
What is success? How to measure the success of a project? What is the relevant project success criteria? What are the most critical factors in project management? Why does a project succeed or fail? What are the roles of the project management and the team members? What are the factors that lead to success? How many dimensions could success be examined? Is the project management approach significantly important?
Project Management is an area with wide context. As we laid emphasis on individual differences when we discussed intelligence, similarly project management approach and best routes to achieve success in project management can and will differ according to these differences. In this text, with comprehensive research on the subject, we aim to provide you the essence of achieving “real”, measurable, success. We are going to discuss some of the key factors, identifying the relevant set of keywords, introducing critical success factors in project management and the accurate project success criteria; using schematic expressions to further explain the context. Moreover, we will emphasize the idea of “Benefits Management” and how it may be of help in the way of achieving “real”, perceptible, success.
Before we have an in-depth discussion, it will be beneficial to lay down some of our keywords to have a contextual understanding.
Project Success is not the same as Project Management Success. Project Success is measured against the overall objectives of a project, in other words, what was the aim of initiating this project, and were these goals fulfilled with the completion of the project.
Project Success leads to two supplementary values. The former being, Additional Corporate Value and the latter being Sustained Long-Term Value.
- Additional Corporate Value: refers to the corporation benefits of the project. (e.g., a project in Artificial Intelligence could fasten the process and increase projected margin)
- Sustained Long-Term Value: Successful project performance leads to an improved bottom-line. Projects with success convert the outcomes of projects into sustainable, long-term merits. (e.g., increases the net worth of an enterprise)
Project Management Success
Project Management Success is not the same as Project Success. Project Management Success refers to the project’s progress stage. It is measured against widespread and conventional measures of performance vs. cost, time, and quality.
Project Success Criteria
Success Criteria can be defined as the relevant measures by which success or failure of a project to be judged.
Project Success Factors
Success Factors are the inputs to the management that leads directly or indirectly to the achievements of a project.
- Project Objectives: What should this project deliver? (e.g., scope, quality, efficiency)
- Business Objectives: What are the expectations of the Stakeholders?
- Social & Environmental Objectives: Will this project in some way benefit the local society?
Relevant Success Factors
It is key to identify the relevant success factors tailored not towards the general view but the project’s “real” interests.
Some of these may be listed as;
- Support from senior management
- Clear realistic objectives
- Strong/detailed plan kept up to date
- Good communication/feedback
- User/client involvement
- Skilled/suitably qualified/sufficient staff/team
- Effective change management
- Competent project manager
- Strong business case/sound basis for project
- Sufficient/well-allocated resources
Project Management Approach
As we have mentioned in the introduction, project management carries individual differences. A method that might suit your project’s needs may be dividing stages and objectives. There is not a golden method that would guarantee success, however, the right approach for the right project definitely has a significant role in the process of achieving success.
Project Process as a Chain
We could contemplate the project process as a chain. Primarily, the interests of Stakeholders initiate the project, and this project is aimed to benefit their goal in starting this project. Benefits play a significant role when it comes to measuring the success of a project. The objectives of Stakeholders in instigating this project determine the critical success factors in project management.
According to our comprehensive research, there is an insufficient amount of study in the area of “Benefits Management”, but what is Benefits Management?
Benefits are wishes of the Stakeholders or the project owners aimed to achieve by the means of the initiated project.
How are “BENEFITS” Delivered?
Benefits are delivered to the Project Manager who is usually responsible for informing the team members and planning the process accordingly.
We could see “benefits” as another chain:
How are “BENEFITS” Managed?
Benefits are managed by the means of First-Order and Second-Order Control. What do we mean?
- First-Order Control: changing current practices to meet relevant project goals.
- Second-Order Control: changing goals and methods for the sake of benefits.
“Processes and Decisions translate Strategy into Programs and Projects.”
Be persistent. Consistently Self-Evaluate.
Metrics are vital to achieve “real” success. How can the current phase of the project be evaluated? What are the crucial objectives to consider to achieve success in the project? What is the correct success criteria for the project?
Firstly, “line of sight”; constantly ask for feedback on the current project performance. This will help in the measuring process of anticipated achievement, in other words, to determine how likely the project is going to succeed. It’s critical to have this evaluation in every stage of the project for satisfactory outcomes.
Recommended Article: Cost-Benefit Analysis Example
Why is Self-Evaluation Significantly Important?
In one word, accuracy. It is psychologically proven that people have a tendency to underestimate or overestimate the time they can get the work done. The human mind might deceive. To clear your way, try to constantly and objectively self-evaluate yourself in proportion to project success criteria. What are the critical success factors in project management? How can project success be measured correspondingly? Are you efficient? Are you punctual enough? Do you practice your project management skills sufficiently? Are you working for the subjective benefit of the project or the project owner?
Constant self-evaluation will also be beneficial in turning explicit, definite knowledge into tacit, experimental, knowledge which will help, walking on the stairway towards continuous improvement.
Furthermore, consider these key points in the process:
- What is “Done”?
- What needs “Improvement”?
- Do the projects “match” the Business Strategy and Smart Objectives?
Schiefloe’s Extended Pentagon Model describes the project process as below, indicating the importance of constant monitoring leading to improvement.
Schiefloe’s Extended Pentagon Model (2011)
We have laid down some of the most important key points of Project Success and Project Management Success, highlighting that Project Management Success and Project Success are significantly different. We have identified Success Factors, exemplifying them in depth. We have indicated the role of individual difference in Project Management and how it may variate in the Project Management Approach. Moreover, we were introduced to the idea of “Benefits Management”, seeing how the crucial elements take place in the organization process of a project.
We have reminded the importance of constant evaluation, using relevant metrics and processes, and self-evaluating every stage of the project. We have seen Schiefloe’s Extended Pentagon Model to have a more structured understanding of the project process.
Lastly, we would like to further put emphasis on a growth mindset. Constant growth and improvement result from the perspective to never give up and protect the process of learning. There isn’t one answer to a question, just like the approaches of project management. It’s beneficial to constantly be in the search of a better method, there always is says the growth mindset.
To be of help in this process, we have left supplementary resources. “Real” learning is an insatiable process, there is always something new to learn and it’s not “done” just yet, nor will it ever be.
Thank you for reading, Cubicle team wishes you a great day!
What is your Project Management Approach? Comment below for any further additions and thoughts!
- Asbjørn Rolstadås, Iris Tommelein, Per Morten Schiefloe, Glenn Ballard, (2014) “Understanding project success through analysis of project management approach”, International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 7 Issue: 4, pp.638-660, https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-09-2013-0048
- Pinto, J. K., & Slevin, D. P. (1987). Critical success factors in successful project management. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, EM-34(1), 22–27.https://doi:10.1109/tem.1987.6498856
- Cooke-Davies, T. (2002). International journal of project management, 20(3), 185-190.
Materials for Further Knowledge
- (PMI) Project Management Institute Website
- Case Studies
- “The Role of Project Management Maturity and Organizational Culture in Perceived Performance” by Hulya Julie Yazici
- “Nature of Risk in Complex Projects” by Terry Williams