The ubiquitous triple constraint of project management
Every project must be on time, within budget, in scope – and meet quality standards. Adjust one element of the triple constraint and the other elements must shift accordingly. Unfortunately, meeting the triple constraint is often the only measure of project success, when other factors should be considered. These additional success factors should be listed in the Project Charter or other initiation documents. To verify that your project truly has been successful, here are:
Four Ways to Judge Project Success
Projects that nail the triple constraint are not necessarily a success. Conversely, projects may be deemed successful without satisfying the triple constraint. Ask yourself the following four questions to determine whether or not your project can rightly be judged a success.
1 – Is the Client Happy?
One of the best indicators of success on a project is when a client is happy with the results, whether that client is internal or external to the organization. “But,” you may ask, “what if the project went over budget and we weren’t able to bring it in for the amount the client requested?” When that happens, it doesn’t mean the project failed. For example, I just had my house painted. Both the cost of paint and labor ran over budget. I’m still extremely pleased with the results and deemed the project a success.
2 – Are You Looking Forward to Working Together on the Next Project?
Projects can get a little rough and tumble as people with different personalities, skill sets, expectations, and experience come together to complete a project. There are going to be moments of great exhilaration parallel to instances of deep despair. Does the sum total of these experiences net out to a positive vibe? If you, the team, and your client are able to see the project in your review mirror and stay excited about working on the next one – then it indicates that your project was a success.
3 – Did You Get Paid for the Project?
For external projects, payment is a huge indicator that a project was successful. Let’s face it; if you or your company doesn’t get paid for a project for any number of reasons, it would be considered a huge failure. The client may not be satisfied with the project results (see #1 above). You need to be diligent to ensure this doesn’t happen to you!
4 – Were the Desired Outcomes Met?
A definition of project success is found in the objectives listed at the beginning of the project. They provide guidance for judging when a project can be considered complete. The list will detail the end state of the project, i.e., “The time tracking software will be deployed to all employees across three company locations. All employees will be trained on the software and have a Quick Start Guide to assist. Additionally, the Call Center will be brought up to speed to handle any support issues.”
If the results of the project match the desired outcomes, then it can be considered a success. There’s more to judging project success than just being on time, within budget, and in scope. The triple constraint is the foundation of project management, but not the end-all, be-all of project success. Ask yourself these four questions and you’ll find your projects reaching an even greater degree of success!