In the cut-throat world of project delivery, it can be easy to lose sight of the real reason why you’re doing what you’re doing. With immense pressure for projects to hit their planned go live date, it’s easy to understand how teams may be eager to claim success as soon as they’ve crossed that finishing line without taking a step back to compare the project results to the original project goals.
For us, there are two key factors to being able to claim implementation success:
- Defining your success criteria upfront
- Measuring against these to determine whether you have actually achieved them
So how do you go about defining your project’s success criteria?
You start by reviewing the project business case, and if there is no business case, you need to work on putting one in place. A good business case should define the business value that will be derived from completing the project. This may include things like: increased revenue, service efficiencies, customer retention, remediation of end of service life technology risks, and the list goes on. The success criteria will be unique per project and need to be checked against the cost of implementing the project to verify the overall viability of the project.
Once you have a clear understanding of “why”, you can start defining the ways in which you will confirm whether you’ve hit the mark or not. It’s important to be clear about:
- How each success criteria will be measured?
Not all success criteria will come down to a simple “yes it’s been achieved” or “no it hasn’t” answer. Many will require information gathering and assessment. You therefore have to ensure that you add a specific measurement requirement to each success criteria. If, for example, increased revenue is a success criteria, be clear about the % increase and over what period.
- When it will be measured?
Some success criteria can be confirmed during or immediately after project completion, others may require months or even years to come to fruition. Be clear about when, how often and for how long it needs to be measured.
- Who will be responsible for the measurement?
Identify what data sources are needed to support the measurement and who will own the collection and analysis of these. At the same time, also be clear about who they need to report their findings to.
Lastly, be sure to have your success criteria and associated measurement processes are properly documented and easily accessible by the project team and other stakeholders. If there are success criteria that can be measured during project implementation, ensure that you do not lose track of these activities. Work them into your project plan and schedule progress checks around these. If they can only be confirmed by operational teams post project implementation, ensure that there is a proper handover to ensure that your stakeholders understand at which point these will be confirmed and by whom.
As much as cost, time, scope and quality remain the pillars of technical project success, business value (and the evidence thereof) remains the ultimate rubber stamp.
How do you define and measure success? Any room for improvement within your organisation? Get in touch on 021 447 5696 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we can discuss how we can apply our expertise to help your projects claim real success.