Success is, perhaps, one of the most subjective qualities in life which we are all trying desperately to measure. Is it money that makes us successful? A significant amount of followers on our YouTube channels? Or the pride of raising children who know right from wrong?
Lucky for project managers, their measures for success are significantly more concrete.
In every stage of the project pre-planning, project managers are responsible for identifying goals, objectives, and deliverables. This helps later determine a project’s success, as we’re able to look back and say, “did I meet those goals in a meaningful way?”
How to measure project success
1. Evaluate schedule and milestones 2. Evaluate budget 3. Evaluate quality of work and scope 4. Evaluate satisfaction 5. Evaluate end result against original documentation
If you’re still confused and wondering whether your latest endeavor was or was not a complete flop, use this article as a guide to measuring your project’s success.
How to measure your project’s success
It’s worth mentioning that you can measure the success of your project many times before a project is complete. In fact, as a project manager, you would benefit from constantly checking in on the following metrics to see where you stand.
This ensures you don’t have any panic moments toward the end of a project life cycle as you suddenly realize how many tasks are still left untouched. Look over the following measures on a consistent basis. For example, consider sitting down once a week to determine if you’re pacing well on project milestones, budget, and so on.
Doing so will put you in a good place come closing time.
It is especially important to analyze your pace on a regular basis. If you are three weeks into a project and you aren’t where you wanted to be, it’s time to readjust, hire more employees, or come up with a new strategy.
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You have succeeded in your schedule if you’ve been able to hit deadlines as predicted. Were your original estimations of project completion correct? If yes, then you can consider this area a success.
If not, ask yourself why you missed these deadlines, and learn from that in future projects.
Staying within a project budget is huge. Many people literally cannot afford to go over-budget and have to call off the whole thing if they do. A project’s success depends almost entirely on whether those executing it can stay within the constraints they established initially.
It’s important to examine what you’ve spent on a regular basis. This helps you course correct if you’re headed down a path of grossly over-spending.
Once a project is done, use the final budget analysis as a way to measure its success. If you were able to accomplish the goals and deliverables with the resources you originally predicted, take that as a win. Otherwise, you’ll need to analyze where all that money went like me after the Kate Spade Surprise Sale.
This element is also fairly subjective, but as a professional in charge of the project, you should be able to determine whether the completed work lives up to the expectations you set forth. Does the website fit all of a client’s needs, and does it do so in a graphically appealing way? Is it functional, and is the user experience above satisfactory?
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Will the fence built around a house in south Texas be able to withstand hurricane winds? Can the running shoe your team designed take athletes through a full training and race season?
It’s important to measure the quality of a product or service against the user’s needs or expectations. If what you’ve made looks good but can’t withstand the elements it’s subjected to, you can consider that project a failure.
All projects have executives at the helm to help make decisions, or allocate more resources when money runs out. It’s important to remain in contact with your stakeholders both throughout the project, and at the close. For one, they’ll be able to help out should you find yourself in hot water six months into the project.
Additionally, their satisfaction will greatly impact whether the project can overall be considered a success.
Comparison against original documents
Before this project even began, you created plentiful documentation promising clients or your company a specific set of results. Frequently go back and check that documentation, such as your business case and your feasibility study, to ensure you’re pacing well in keeping those promises.
In addition, be sure to include the business case as part of your final review. Did you or did you not live up to your promises? A business case is a comprehensive document and should be as much a part of project review as it was project preparation.
That’s a wrap
Project management is all about reflection. We try, we fail, we succeed, we learn, and then we do it all again the next time around. The only way a project manager can truly fail is by being unwilling to learn from the numerous lessons their projects have in store.
Grace Pinegar is a lifelong storyteller with an extensive background in various forms such as acting, journalism, improv, research, and content marketing. She was raised in Texas, educated in Missouri, worked in Chicago, and is now a proud New Yorker. (she/her/hers)