What does success mean for your projects?
Prudent project leaders measure success through a number of different variables that go beyond the usual measure of project success, i.e., the triple constraint triangle – on target, on time, and on budget.
The Triple Constraint Triangle Is Not the Final Measure of Success
- Stakeholders: How well are stakeholder expectations managed?
According to the PMBOK Guide, 4th edition, 2008: Managing Stakeholder Expectations is the process of communicating and working with stakeholders to meet their needs and addressing issues as they occur, resolving conflict situations, and achieving the project goals. An effective stakeholder management process can ensure that timely and relevant feedback is provided and that changes are made according to the stakeholder management strategy.
- Managing stakeholder perception: Stakeholder perception increases the likelihood that stakeholders will provide the necessary support and the project can be implemented as expected.
- Recording stakeholder activity: The project leader tracks all communications with stakeholders.
- Solving problems and resolving conflicts: The project leader addresses stakeholder concerns and assesses risks to prevent issues and conflicts.
The project leader is responsible for stakeholder expectations management. Stakeholder satisfaction does not have to be a vague measure. You can rate each stakeholder group’s satisfaction on a scale from one to 10 . . . with 10 being best.
- Sustainability: How well is sustainability managed?
According to Making Sense of Sustainability Project Management, 1st edition, 2011: Sustainability project management is the systematic process of planning sustainability into a project as well as identifying, analyzing, and responding to project Sustainability Risk Items. A published sustainability management process helps ensure that sustainability management is included in the planning processes of projects. Sustainability due diligence suggests that projects be managed from start to finish with reference to a Sustainability Management Plan and a Sustainability Information Management System. You can apply sustainability tools and metrics to a project’s cost/benefit assessment and derive a Sustainability Index.
- Earned Value Analysis (EVA): EVA is “Project management with the lights on!”
Earned value analysis is a point in time evaluation that measures project health by asking three key questions. Once you have answered three questions, the earned value indices (CPI and SPI) can be easily calculated:
- How much work did your plan to complete? (Planned Value: PV)
- How much work did you actually complete? (Earned Value: EV)
- How much did it cost to complete the work? (Actual Cost: AC)
CPI = EV/AC and SPI = EV/PV
You can establish your own ranges as appropriate (e.g., CPI and SPI between .95 and 1.05 could be a green, and CPI and SPI less than .85 could be red) and continue to use a consistent objective definition to summarize project status.
EVA requires project leaders to track project actual start and finish dates while comparing actual costs to the project baseline. By adopting EVA on your projects, you will reinforce good project management/leadership principles.
You may deliver the product, service, or result – on target, on time, and on budget—and still not be “successful.” Being a successful project leader is about managing stakeholder expectations, promoting sustainability, and using EVA to “manage with the lights on.”
How do you measure project success? Comments?