Have you thought about how to define a project as a success or failure? Many times, we think of it in the simplest of terms as defined in the triple constraint: Was it completed on schedule? Did we remain within the initial budget? Was it delivered with a high level of quality?

These can indeed be success criteria, but does this account for what the project sponsor or stakeholders envisioned when they embarked on the project? Maybe cost is of little consequence if they are trying to ensure user adoption by delivering a much-needed automation of a task.

If you have started a project and not defined success criteria, you can never accurately measure the success of the project. Also, it can make it easier for the stakeholders to make a case that a project was not successful.  If you have not defined a clear path, then it is an individual feeling if parameters are met, since no one formally agreed to the criteria during the project initiation.

Since each project can have a wide range of success criteria, you will want to brainstorm with your team on the goals you want to reach. You will want to avoid items that are difficult to be measured. For example, avoid stating goals such as High quality installation of software.  Instead, a goal would be Installation of software as designed to all users in the organization. In this example, you have shifted the success criteria to a goal that can be measured.

Once complete, document the criteria as well as how will it be measured, how often will it be measured and by whom, then you will want to get approval and begin tracking your success:

  • Review them with the stakeholders and have them formally sign off in agreement.
  • Communicate these parameters to the entire team.
  • Define a schedule to conduct checkpoint reviews. Some items will only need to be measured once, while others will need regular review to ensure they are on track.
  • When closing the project, review each success criteria and how it was or wasn’t met with the project team.
  • Define remediation actions as needed to ensure all goals are met. You may need to define why a specific item could not be met.
  • Review lessons learned and document how you can achieve better results for future projects.