The operation was a success but unfortunately the patient is dead

The rules of success in project management are changing. Where we once believed in time, on scope and on budget was all it took, we now find it is only the beginning. Research shows that satisfaction is now the main criteria used to measure the success of a project.

Budget, schedule and scope
Budget, schedule and scope. The mantra of project managers. A successful project has to manage and balance all three domains. Making a trade-off in one of them will have impacts in the other twos.

This thinking is so ingrained that project managers think that success means delivering according to plan. 

Why ""on plan"" doesn’t work anymore?
But the reality is that project success is defined much differently by the users. Research has shown that delivering on plan accounts for only 2% of a project success. Seems very little for something so important. So what is the most important part?

   * 44%: User satisfaction
   * 40%: Process efficiency

The users must feel they’ve not only met their expectations, but also their day to day job got easier.
It doesn’t mean adherence to plan isn’t important

Of course, I'm not saying that adherence to plan isn't important. But, adherence is often more important to the project manager than to the organization.

Measuring success
We are often invited to think about what success will look like when the project is completed. This is nice and good, but the reality is that the measure of success is already defined for us. Project managers that fail to measure satisfaction will be judged on gossips.


  • Satisfaction is the most important metric in defining project success
  • Most projects fail to measure satisfaction
  • Without satisfaction measures, people will believe rumours and gossips
Posted on May 16, 2014 and filed under blog.