A New Year, A New Release and New Voices!
Happy 2013 from everyone on the Vertabase Team.
We want to fill you in on the exciting things happening at Vertabase.
First and foremost, it is that time of the delivery cycle where we are actively working on the next release of Vertabase project management software. As always, we are turning to you, our growing community, for your feedback. We are here to help improve project management for you. So let us know what features you’d like to see in an upcoming release. You can email us through the support email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll make sure it gets to the right people.
The project environment continues to change, with many new challenges and new twists to old challenges for project managers everywhere. One thing that remains the same is our commitment to helping you.
Here’s to good projects,
– The Vertabase Team
Defining Project Success
Project success. What does that mean? How do you define your own project success? How does your management define it? How does your client define it? Chances are, if you actually sit down and consider these questions in detail, you might give different answers for each one. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were some sort of cut and dry way to know for sure whether or not the project delivery was a success?
From my years of project management experience and observation, I’ve decided that there are basically three primary factors that projects are judged upon when trying to determine whether or not the project was an overall success – or failure. And keep in mind, most surveys find that project failures run at about 50% – 76% of all projects. So success – however it is determined – is not easy to come by. The three factors that I believe are the main success/failure criteria are: on budget delivery, on time delivery, and customer satisfaction. Let’s look at each of these in more detail…
On budget delivery
The first one on my list is on budget project delivery. It’s rare, but often budgets are a moving target anyway. A missed change order opportunity here, unplanned work there, and BAM, you now have a budget that is out of control and you’ll never deliver the project on budget.
However, your senior management – and even your customer – will likely consider the project to be delivered on budget if it’s within a certain percentage of the original budget forecast. I’d like to say 10%, but if you’re working a $1.5 million project, that’s $150,000 and that’s not a fudge factor – that’s an absolute budget overrun. So, obviously, the ‘acceptable’ amount is somewhat dependent on the size of the project in terms of dollars. Usually 3-5% is going to be acceptable by all parties, including the customer.
Obviously, scope management is going to play a critical role in on budget delivery of the project. Don’t be afraid to create change orders for things that fall outside the scope of the project. Failure to do so will make it nearly impossible to deliver your project on budget. Likewise, forecast and re-forecast the project budget weekly. A 10% budget overrun is far easier to fix than a 50% overrun. If you’re managing the project budget and forecast every week, it’s very doubtful that it will get too far out of hand that you can’t take some kind of corrective action. Stay on it, you won’t be sorry.
On time delivery
On time project delivery is likely very important to your project client. However, it is also likely to be very important to your executive management. Why? Because delivering a project on time means you are freeing up your project resources according to the original project plan so that they can now move on to work on other projects that likely need them right away. On time delivery is really not a common occurrence, so when you can pull it off it’s often an instant recognition factor and a nice feather in your project management cap.
In terms of the customer, delivering the project on time may mean success and rewards for the project sponsor or primary customer contact with their superiors. So, you’ve made them look good and that’s usually very good for you. It may mean that the customer organization was able to meet some specific obligations on time for their own clients – so you can see how on time delivery can have a very positive domino affect.
Finally, on to the concept of customer satisfaction. This is a hard one to quantify. Not only that, it’s a hard one to understand, a hard one to predict, and it doesn’t always happen for the right reasons and it doesn’t always not happen for the right reasons either. On time delivery and on budget delivery may factor into their satisfaction level, but other things can affect it as well – and sometimes it’s things you have very little control over or are clueless how to measure or fix. The key as the project manager – in terms of customer happiness – is to make sure you stay engaged with them throughout the process and are tending to their needs. Keep them informed, always treat them as part of the team, give them good and bad news in a timely fashion, and definitely address any concerns very quickly.
At the end of the project, have a detailed discussion with the customer. Get their perspective on the successes and failures of the project, definitely conduct a lessons learned session with them, and try to get an idea of whether you’re likely to get repeat business from them. Your goal should always be to have a happy, referenceable customer at the end of the engagement. If you accomplish that, then most likely you’ve just experienced a project success.