Project Management

Successfully Managing Project Expectations: The Key to Project Success

Marc Lacroix is a Managing Partner of RTM Consulting with a proven track record in achieving Professional Services organizational growth and operations improvements in a variety of companies. Marc has extensive expertise in PS organizational strategy, delivery methodology development, resource management, professional services automation (PSA) and program/project management.

What is success?

Every person in service delivery should ask themselves and all involved at the inception of every project: What is the definition of success for this project? It seems simple, but it is infrequently done. Without getting into the specifics of any particular type of project, let me offer a simple definition of success that can apply to all projects:

A successful project is when the team delivered what was required and in line with expectations.

The definition is light on specifics, but very clear. How does this simple statement help define success? The traditional definitions of success tend to be what people can measure. This is why on-budget, on-time and to the customer’s satisfaction tend to be the most common KPIs determining whether a project is successful or not.

According to a recent Technology Services Industry Association project performance survey, a third of projects exceed planned hours by 5% or more, nearly half of projects do not end on schedule and 19% of customers are neutral or unsatisfied with the results. What does this tell us about the relative success of projects?

These KPIs are single, measurable criteria of success. But even if a project scored well in two of them and not one, is the project a success? Maybe. If the project succeeded at all three, is the project a success? Probably.

Going back to the simple …

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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts."

- Bertrand Russell