Mark Mullaly is president of Interthink Consulting Incorporated, an organizational development and change firm specializing in the creation of effective organizational project management solutions. Since 1990, it has worked with companies throughout North America to develop, enhance and implement effective project management tools, processes, structures and capabilities. Mark was most recently co-lead investigator of the Value of Project Management research project sponsored by PMI. You can read more of his writing at markmullaly.com.
If you ask the majority of project managers what the definition of project success is, you’ll hear a response that sounds a whole lot like “on time, on budget and to specification". In principle, this is all well and good. We want our projects to be on time, on budget and to specification. A lot of people judge projects by only those factors. The question that remains, however, is whether or not this really defines success, or at least whether it fully defines success. Is that all there is to getting a project done well, or is there something else that we need to be watching out for as project managers?
To help explore this point, I want to employ a case study of a project that was conducted a while ago. For a time, the Taurus project needed no introduction. It was initiated in the 1980s by the London Stock Exchange to address the problem of settlement. Put simply, settlement is the process of money and shares changing hands once a stock transaction has occurred. For most exchanges, this takes several days to occur. During this time, the stocks that were just purchased could in turn be sold (sometimes several more times) before the first transaction is “settled”.
As long as everything goes well, this isn’t a problem. If one of the previous transactions fails to proceed, however, then someone just sold something that they don