Factors Relevant To Project Failure Or Success

What determines project success or failure?


Knowing what determines project success or failure is important. It provides you with direction; you know what you will be judged on and, therefore, what you will be aiming for. With that in mind, in this post we are going to assess the factors that are relevant to project success or failure in further detail.

The success of the project manager tends to be based on how they achieve three key goals. These are as follows:

  • 1.The project being completed on time
  • 2.The project being completed within the cost budget that was approved
  • 3.Good performance – This means that the project delivers the intended benefits and satisfies the specification that was provided

In order to achieve these objectives, there are a number of factors that are required:

  • Quick and fair conflict resolution
  • Effective project management training
  • Well-motivated team members
  • Good project communications
  • Appropriate regard for the health and safety of all people that are connected with the project
  • A suitable organization structure
  • A sound quality culture throughout the business
  • Technical competence
  • Firm control of changes to the project
  • Availability of resources, including sufficient funds
  • Strong support for the project
  • The correct project strategy
  • Clear project definition

In some cases, one of the three primary objectives mentioned above may have special importance over the others. For example, it could be critical that the project is completed on time – this could be even more important than performance or budget. This can have an impact on how scarce resources are allocated and the way in which management attention is concentrated. This can also influence the choice of project organization structure.

It is important to recognize that this will result in a trade-off decision. If there is more emphasis placed on one or two of the main objectives, then it is going to come at the expense of the other objective(s).

You also need to understand the relationship between quality and cost, as well as the relationship between time and cost. Let’s deal with the former first. Most would agree that quality cannot be attained without added cost. However, there is an even greater reason why you cannot compromise or downgrade quality in order to save money. This is evident when you accept that a product must be fit for the purpose for which it was intended – this is the definition of quality. Downgrading quality simply isn’t an option, as no project manager should ever think about a result that is not fit for purpose.

There is also a vital and direct relationship between time and money. Cost estimates are almost guaranteed to be overspent if a project runs late. Every day that a project exists, be it a non-working or working day, it costs money.

All in all, if your project is to be a success, you need to achieve the three primary objectives mentioned above – deliver it on time, deliver it on budget, and deliver it to the specification provided by the client. You also need to understand how these objectives impact one and other if you are to succeed.

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