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Topics: Construction, Consulting, Earned Value Management
How do you define critical success factors for project ?
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Are you taking time,cost and scope only as success factors.
Or including meeting project objectives or value creation in this list.
Please share your views.
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In the field of systems architecture, one of the first steps is to define the desired qualities of the system to be developed that differentiate success from failure. These are often referred to as the "ilities"
Examples: Affordability, Producability, Reliability, Maintainability, etc.
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Well, time, cost and scope are project objectives (or should be). There can be more like quality. Even if often omitted as objective, the overarching objective is satisfaction of the key stakeholders. If those are happy, you can forget the rest. That's why stakeholder management is so important.

As for the value, it is mostly achieved after the project has delivered its output. So it would be unfair to ask the project manager to ensure that the value is delivered (though it is done sometimes, in the need of someone to blame).
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Project objectives are the same of project success factors. The problem, something I debate lot of times with the PMI groups, is most of the people assign product success factors as project success factors which is totally wrong due to all related of product is outside the project except for the activities to create it as defined, in the time needed and with all the characteristics needed. Then, the only thing a project manager can manage is time, scope, quality and cost (not budged). Let me give an example. I saw lot of times "the project will help us to grow 5% in market share in the current year". Totally wrong. The organization will growth with the product the project will create so the only thing "the project" can do is to assure that the defined product will be created in the needed time, with the needed quality, using the assigned cost as expected. No more than that. By the way, all related to product definition as a key component of the solution is on hands of business analysis.
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2 replies by Keith Novak and Steve Ratkaj
Feb 20, 2019 2:22 PM
Steve Ratkaj
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I guess it depends on the nature of the organization. Projects are typically implemented to address business "needs" and hence business "outcomes". In our case, a project implemented to deliver a weapons platform addresses a business "need" (otherwise known as a capability deficiency), but in the larger government context, the business "outcome" is aligned with the strategic outlook for the country as a whole. For example, national defence, NATO commitments/ inter-operability, etc.
Feb 20, 2019 2:54 PM
Keith Novak
...
I had an interesting discussion with a professor at Missouri S&T on this subject, but rather about whether project measures like time and cost valid attributes of a system because they are outside the system.

While project measures don't apply at the product or system level, they do apply at the architecture level, which includes the environment. It could never be an effective product if it can't fit the market needs in terms of timeliness and affordability. While they're not TPMs, they're still KPAs.

I think that can be reversed and we can say that product success is a necessary attribute of project success as whatever defines product success are the qualities valued by the customer. On time and within budget is no good unless it produced the expected value.
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Feb 20, 2019 1:59 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Project objectives are the same of project success factors. The problem, something I debate lot of times with the PMI groups, is most of the people assign product success factors as project success factors which is totally wrong due to all related of product is outside the project except for the activities to create it as defined, in the time needed and with all the characteristics needed. Then, the only thing a project manager can manage is time, scope, quality and cost (not budged). Let me give an example. I saw lot of times "the project will help us to grow 5% in market share in the current year". Totally wrong. The organization will growth with the product the project will create so the only thing "the project" can do is to assure that the defined product will be created in the needed time, with the needed quality, using the assigned cost as expected. No more than that. By the way, all related to product definition as a key component of the solution is on hands of business analysis.
I guess it depends on the nature of the organization. Projects are typically implemented to address business "needs" and hence business "outcomes". In our case, a project implemented to deliver a weapons platform addresses a business "need" (otherwise known as a capability deficiency), but in the larger government context, the business "outcome" is aligned with the strategic outlook for the country as a whole. For example, national defence, NATO commitments/ inter-operability, etc.
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Feb 20, 2019 3:08 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Business needs happens because strategy. A business need is a problem (by definition of need) situation to be solve with a solution strategy. Strategy is the way organizations respond to environmental stimuli from the outside. What you stated are both business needs that have been created because something change in the environment and must be answered according to a defined strategy to survive.
Network:349



Feb 20, 2019 1:59 PM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Project objectives are the same of project success factors. The problem, something I debate lot of times with the PMI groups, is most of the people assign product success factors as project success factors which is totally wrong due to all related of product is outside the project except for the activities to create it as defined, in the time needed and with all the characteristics needed. Then, the only thing a project manager can manage is time, scope, quality and cost (not budged). Let me give an example. I saw lot of times "the project will help us to grow 5% in market share in the current year". Totally wrong. The organization will growth with the product the project will create so the only thing "the project" can do is to assure that the defined product will be created in the needed time, with the needed quality, using the assigned cost as expected. No more than that. By the way, all related to product definition as a key component of the solution is on hands of business analysis.
I had an interesting discussion with a professor at Missouri S&T on this subject, but rather about whether project measures like time and cost valid attributes of a system because they are outside the system.

While project measures don't apply at the product or system level, they do apply at the architecture level, which includes the environment. It could never be an effective product if it can't fit the market needs in terms of timeliness and affordability. While they're not TPMs, they're still KPAs.

I think that can be reversed and we can say that product success is a necessary attribute of project success as whatever defines product success are the qualities valued by the customer. On time and within budget is no good unless it produced the expected value.
...
1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Feb 20, 2019 3:05 PM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
My point is: project manager is not in charge to define the product. Project manager is in charge of defining the activities to define the product if and only if the product definition is considered as part of the project. Project manager and the project contributes to project success in an indirect but important way: quality, scope, time and cost. The point is the view has to be change from project to solution where solution is "the thing" to be created plus "the way" to create it. Business analyst is accountable for the first while project manager is accountable for the second then it is very important dont punish each one for things that are outside their scope of work no matter both must be work together.
Network:1911



Feb 20, 2019 2:54 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
I had an interesting discussion with a professor at Missouri S&T on this subject, but rather about whether project measures like time and cost valid attributes of a system because they are outside the system.

While project measures don't apply at the product or system level, they do apply at the architecture level, which includes the environment. It could never be an effective product if it can't fit the market needs in terms of timeliness and affordability. While they're not TPMs, they're still KPAs.

I think that can be reversed and we can say that product success is a necessary attribute of project success as whatever defines product success are the qualities valued by the customer. On time and within budget is no good unless it produced the expected value.
My point is: project manager is not in charge to define the product. Project manager is in charge of defining the activities to define the product if and only if the product definition is considered as part of the project. Project manager and the project contributes to project success in an indirect but important way: quality, scope, time and cost. The point is the view has to be change from project to solution where solution is "the thing" to be created plus "the way" to create it. Business analyst is accountable for the first while project manager is accountable for the second then it is very important dont punish each one for things that are outside their scope of work no matter both must be work together.
Network:1911



Feb 20, 2019 2:22 PM
Replying to Steve Ratkaj
...
I guess it depends on the nature of the organization. Projects are typically implemented to address business "needs" and hence business "outcomes". In our case, a project implemented to deliver a weapons platform addresses a business "need" (otherwise known as a capability deficiency), but in the larger government context, the business "outcome" is aligned with the strategic outlook for the country as a whole. For example, national defence, NATO commitments/ inter-operability, etc.
Business needs happens because strategy. A business need is a problem (by definition of need) situation to be solve with a solution strategy. Strategy is the way organizations respond to environmental stimuli from the outside. What you stated are both business needs that have been created because something change in the environment and must be answered according to a defined strategy to survive.
Network:322



Time, scope and cost are the project objectives/success factors but value creation is equally important. A project will not lead to the business outcome as is but it will position the organisation to achieve the desired results over-time by creating the product or service for which it was originally initiated. I have been on teams where a project was a super success in terms of time and cost but it was termed a failure because it could not achieve the desired business outcome and vision. This could vary with organisation though. Some times projects fail due to lack of effective change management from stakeholder perspective.
Network:685



Thanks to all of you for sharing valuable points.
Network:2515



Alok, there is also a difference between objectives and critical success factors.

wikipedia: "Critical success factors are those few things that must go well to ensure success for a manager or an organization and, therefore, they represent those managerial or enterprise areas that must be given special and continual attention to bring about high performance. CSFs include issues vital to an organization's current operating activities and to its future success."

CSFs for a project are the prerequisites to make achievement of the particular objectives (scope, time, cost etc) more probable. They are different per project situation, but could be just modeled after the 10 PMBoK knowledge areas. As to many surveys why projects go wrong, I would suggest that key CSFs are attacking these key reasons for project failures:
- stakeholder analysis and engagement
- communication
- scope management
...
1 reply by Alok Priyadarshi
Feb 21, 2019 10:08 AM
Alok Priyadarshi
...
Thank you Thomas for giving nice perspectives about CSF both for project and project manager. I also agree with you for key reason for project failure.

Long term benefit of even cost overruned and delayed project may change the perception of Project success. I think project type is also one of deciding factor of Project success. There are many more..What is your view on this ..please share.
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