project failure

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

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.