Exploring Success Factors and Measures; 2 of 2

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.
This is part two of our two-part post on Success Factors and Measures. Two independent events last month (a magazine interview and a webinar) resonated around a frequently-discussed, but often disputed topic: What is project success, and how do you achieve it? The events covered two aspects of project success: the Success Factors (that lead to project success) and the Success Measures (used to evaluate success). This posting covers the Success Measures.

The Success Measures

Tim Jaques and Frank Salidis ran the latest webinar in the IPMA-USA 2010 Dialogue series the first week of July. The topic was Perspectives on Project Success: Excellence in Project Management. The well-presented and discussed Dialogue was excellent, but there is much more to the topic than an hour’s time. Some of the key points included the fact that the Triple Constraint is merely a project measure. It is certainly not as important to the end-user as such hard-to-measure items as business results and customer satisfaction.

Other points included discussions about tangible and intangible value, including Return On Investment, and Stakeholder satisfaction.  Perceived failures, at least according to project measures, may be successes by the time of product success measurement. A key example provided was the Sydney Opera House. The distinction made: Project outputs versus project outcomes.

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Exploring Success Factors and Measures; 1 of 2

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.
The last month brought us two interesting media events, an interview for a CIO magazine article and a Dialogue webinar. Both covered key aspects of project success. Though independent events, both showed synchronicity around a frequently-discussed, but often disputed topic: What is success, and how do you achieve and measure it? The events covered two aspects of project success, the Success Factors (that lead to success) and the Success Measures (used to evaluate success). This first of two postings covers the Success Factors.

The Success Factors

Success Factors are the activities or factors in a project that are essential for it to meet its goals and expectations. They are enablers of success. We recently participated in an interview for the CIO magazine article, IT Project Management: 10 Less-Considered Keys to Success. The article explored comments in a discussion at the magazine’s CIO Forum LinkedIn group (the article link is now at ComputerWorld). The lively discussion revolved around the most important, but least-well-known Success Factors, for a successful IT project.

The first-mentioned Success Factor was (drumroll, please) A Clear Definition of Success. And, while the forum and article targeted CIOs and Information Technology projects, most of the comments apply to most project types. One participant commented that too often success is based merely on elements of the “triple constraint”. He commented that project teams need to understand the expected value proposition of the project—and then achieve it.

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Working Towards PM Perfect, Now and Free

PM Commentary by Stacy Goff.
We participated in a Decision Sciences Institute conference in Toledo in April, and it was a very interesting event. A combination of practitioners and educators with a learning focus, the variety of papers presented was impressive. We presented on the educational outreach opportunities of PRO, the Performance Rated Organization standard. Drs. Gary Klein and Neeraj Parolia presented our unique SCiPM program–which generated great interest among the participants.

Exploring Perfect, Now and Free

But the purpose of this posting is to acknowledge the stellar paper of one of the participants. She appears to have a clear grasp of what project stakeholders really want. Ms. Pushpa Agrawal, from the MBA Program Office, University of Nebraska at Kearney, is the presenter who impressed us with her insights. She spoke of the “voice of the customer”. She acknowledged that projects that are Perfect, Now and Free are (currently) unachievable. And yet, she pointed out that this outcome is what every project customer (and manager) desires.

Of course, popular project management practice continues to obsess about the “triple constraints”, or “iron triangle”. Meanwhile, others, such as Duncan, continue to distinguish between project success measures and business success measures. And from our own part, we have for years treated them as part of the Vital Signs of project success.

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