Chapter 1. Introduction to Project Management

1.4 Project Success

Project success and project management success are generally evaluated as different concepts. Project success deals with the impacts of a project’s final product or service on stakeholders. Projects aim to create a unique outcome. Project management success focuses on the processes of a project including the successful accomplishment of the scope, within budget (cost), within time (schedule), and quality aspects. In our grocery chain example, we can close the project when the self-checkout areas are inspected by the inspection committee that is composed of the representatives of the operational unit which is responsible for all fifty markets, and also several store managers. The evaluation and acceptance are conducted by the inspection committee by comparing the requirements with the final deliverables, validating that all the requirements have been implemented, and the self-checkout stations are ready to use by the customers. The inspection committee checks all fifty branches to confirm if the requirements in the project scope were met, and quality standards are complied with. Let’s assume that the project finished on time, and the budget was not exceeded. Therefore, we can consider this as a project management success. Eventually, we can close the project and disband the project teams.

After these self-checkout areas opened for the customers, we observed that most of the customers started to avoid these areas and continued to use checkout stations where cashiers and baggers are available even though customers waited in lines for more than ten minutes. This project was successfully managed but did not meet the client and customer expectations. Projects are initiated by organizations to address business needs (problems or opportunities) and create tangible and intangible benefits by creating an outcome that organizations can benefit from. Realized value of the project can be measured by the project stakeholders. However, our company couldn’t gain the expected value. When the underlying reasons were investigated, it was found that lack of human contact was the main reason. Most of the customers, especially Generation X and baby boomers, still wanted to maintain an interaction with employees to ask for the warranties, the quality of the items, or even have a short chat with the cashiers and baggers. Since it was not a problem due to the technology but affected the solution significantly, the COO and her team decided to add some employees in these areas to help the customers. After changes were done, it was observed that more customers started using the self-checkout areas. However, the operational team decided to monitor the performance of these areas to take further actions if needed.

It is evident that not all projects benefit from successful completion. Many factors influence the success of a project. PMI 2020 Pulse of the Profession[1] reported that 11.4% of investment is wasted due to poor project performance. What makes it worse is that this percentage spikes up to 67% in the organizations that undervalue project management as a strategic competency for driving change. PMI’s same study reported that the factors responsible for the failure were lack of clearly defined and/or achievable milestones and objectives to measure progress (37%), poor communication (19%), lack of communication by senior management (18%), employee resistance (14%), and insufficient funding (9%).

Another report by the Standish Group, “CHAOS 2020: Beyond Infinity”, indicated that 31% of projects were successful while 50% were challenged and 19% failed[2]. This report referred to three factors to improve project performance, that are good sponsor, good team, and good place.

Consequently, a project should be managed effectively by a project manager and the team. If not done so, projects may fail due to the factors listed below:

  • Unrealistic and vague goals
  • Uncontrolled expansion of the project scope (Scope creep)
  • Absent or ineffective relations with the clients/customers and other stakeholders
  • Cost overruns
  • Schedule delays
  • The insufficient amount and/or quality of resources
  • Toxic organizational culture and politics (e.g., mistreatment, aggression, incivility, harassment)
  • Organizational and/or team conflicts
  • Poor communication with stakeholders
  • Unsatisfied stakeholders
  • Ineffective quality assurance and inspections, and/or poor quality


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Project Management by Abdullah Oguz is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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