Project Management

Project Success and Tolerance

Tom Mochal, PMP

How do you measure the success of projects in your portfolio? Cost and schedule, of course — but other criteria should be included to gain a more holistic perspective. And the concept of tolerances should be understood and applied to any evaluation of success (or failure).

Every project should be measured to validate whether it was successful. In addition, all organizations should track the success rate of projects. This is even more important when you manage your projects in a portfolio. It is important to know the percentage of projects that are successful and to move that success percentage higher over time.

Of course, this begs the question of what it means to be successful. Each portfolio should establish the general success criteria for projects. Typically you start with the old standards — cost and duration. You can track actual spending against budget, and your actual completion date against your estimated deadline.

Cost and schedule are two major components of success but are these two measures holistic enough? Usually not. 

Organizations should determine what else makes a project successful. Potential measures include:

  • Quality of deliverables
  • Performance excellence (how well the project team performed)
  • Customer satisfaction with the deliverables produced
  • Minimal disruption to current operations
  • Errors and …

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