Measures of success: How do you know if you’re doing it right?

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The author spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in technical SEO and Content Marketing.

What is one of the most difficult things to measure, when it comes to project management (without looking at the title)? Success. It’s difficult because it is subjective; it means different things to different people, and changes depending on context.


But it is important to understand how the conclusion of a project, or even a milestone, should be measured in terms of success. Team members and department heads need a definitive answer, otherwise how will they know when enough is good enough?




Is there a ‘set in stone’ deadline, or dates when certain project pieces must be completed, so that they can be passed to another department for finishing touches? Finishing to schedule is one measure of success.




What exactly is it that needs to be done in order for the deadline(s) to be met? In the early stages of planning, this may just be an idea but it will end up being the catalyst for everything else that follows.




These are often project killers, but properly managed they can be a strong indicator of success. Did you manage to stick to the proposed budget, did you finish with more left over than you thought? Even if a project comes in a little late, it may be forgiven if you managed to stay under budget in spite of it.




The quality of the finished project may end up determining whether or not there will be a next one. Recommendations are worth more than paid advertising could ever be, if word gets out (and it will) that your finished work is less than satisfactory, then you cannot expect the phone to keep ringing.


Customer Satisfaction


It isn’t always easy to determine whether or not a client is happy until after the project is completed, so it is never a bad idea to ask them as the project progresses. As each milestone is completed and passed, ask them how they feel about it. A quick, 30 second survey email should do the trick – just keep the questions to the bare minimum, and keep it to one page; nobody wants a slideshow.


Team Satisfaction


Often overlooked this one, but it is a critical part of any organisation.  The satisfaction of your team should not just be seen as a measure of success of your current project, but of  your company as a whole. A company that looks after its team is one that it is ultimately more likely to prosper; clients are much less likely to want to do business with a company that has a high staff turnover.


A happy team, one that enjoys coming into work each day, is always going to be more productive.


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Project management has developed into a fully-fledged chartered profession since the granting of the Royal Charter in the UK to The Association for Project Management (APM) in 2017. Training courses for project managers were already available and highly popular to help people gain professional project management accreditation, but with this wider recognition of the profession it is now seen as a desirable career path for many. Whilst the APM has the coveted Royal Charter and continues to develop its APM PMQ (formerly the APMP) programmes, there are also other internationally recognised qualifications that continue to be highly regarded such as PMP and PRINCE2.

Organisations have become increasingly project-focused in this era of rapidly emerging new technologies and they value the expertise that comes with experienced and fully qualified project teams and managers. By investing in their project management capability businesses can be confident of delivering their new projects in time and on budget more often and more successfully. Many major corporation are now training their people to have the right project management qualifications as well as relevant experience, through internal Learning & Development (L&D) programmes; or by using external project management training providers.

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