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What Is Project Success?
By Barney Austen

Project management success can mean different things for different people depending on their participation in the project.

For a software developer it could be:

  • The on-time delivery of their particular element.
  • The delivery of a new piece of functionality that had never been done before.
  • The fact that they mentored a junior member of the team for the first time and got a kick out of it.

For the designer it could be:

  • Seeing their design coming to fruition.
  • That design piece that the customer disagreed with but the designer insisted on is now being appreciated.
  • Just being glad that it’s done and moving onto the next thing!

For the project manager:

  • On time, on budget, in scope, to quality.
  • Because it was the biggest project they’d ever done and it went well.
  • Because their boss gave them a nice bonus.

There are many reasons why any team member can feel satisfied that a project was a success.

But the real test of a successful project to me is whether it answers the simple question: Did the customer of the project get what they expected out of it? There is no other more important measure of successful project delivery.

If the end customer is satisfied then:

  • Their business case made sense and they are seeing the value.
  • The engagement with the project team was a positive experience.
  • They would recommend that project team/business again.

Without a positive customer reception of the project after it has been closed off, the project has not been a success.

While a large amount of this is down to the project delivering what was promised against the original business case, very often, the impression of the project manager and the team is just as important.

So when you are considering the success criterion of your next project consider the main question of whether the customer is satisfied with what they received.

If they are, they’ll be back. If they’re not – they won’t!

Barney Austen is the founder of http://beta.myprojecttracker.com/ (still in Beta), an easy to use, cost effective, powerful tool to provide both business owners and project managers the key information needed to run their projects efficiently and effectively. Barney Austen’s passion is to help businesses through the provision of functionally relevant, but intuitive products. You can read more from Barney on his company’s blog, available here.

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