There cannot be a project without its success criteria. However, when we observe discussions on various online forums or conferences, many project professionals focus on schedule, cost, and quality. Numerous publications on project management continue to pivot around the triangle of schedule, cost, and quality. Is this so?
Has the nature of projects not changed over the past fifty-odd years since project management became a discipline?
Consider these projects.
- Development of a mobile app for the New Year.
- Drug development for a life-threatening disease.
- Highway infrastructure project in Amazon.
- Implementing GDPR on a technology project.
- Building a school for a charitable trust.
On a close review of the above projects, does one still feel that the success criterion is either schedule, cost, or quality?
The first project would be successful only if delivered before Dec 31st – hence schedule would be the key success criterion. However, the same may not be true about drug development. Of course, the drug is needed at the earliest, but not at the cost of quality. The project in Amazon must not disturb the ecology and, hence the environmental impact is the key here. Implementing GDPR is about data privacy, which is associated with compliance with European laws. Building a school must be within the budget as it is a charitable organization.
It is evident from just five examples that the project success criterion is unique and is contextual.
The key takeaways for leaders and project managers are:
- Understand and document the project success criteria.
- Educate their team members about the relevance of project success criteria.
- Most important – use the project criterion as the lighthouse as they navigate a ship called project!
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