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How do you define project success?
After reading a great article by Marian Haus on her blog, she brought up the question "how do you define project success".

I think this is a fantastic question and surely to elicit different answers. For me project success is measured by the ability for it's deliverables to create business value.

Looking at that now I realize I am missing the scope, cost, schedule from my definition. Would you help me improve it?
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Jan 02, 2016 7:24 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
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Adil: that is a big mistake in terms of ambiguity that still persist inside the PMBOK and the PMI is going to change. I know that because I am working with both organizations (IIBA and PMI) in creating the standards for both professions (Business Analyst and Project Manager). And when the PMBOK is refering to product scope is because product scope has to be taking into account to define project scope. Take into accoun that a business case is the input for the initiation process. That means all related to product scope has been defined before the project exists at certain level of detail. But the project must not be penalized for things that are outside the project team. Project objectives like "growth 5% in market share in the current year" are outside the project team control because it will be achieved with the product/service/result not with the project itself. That is a big mistake that still persist when project teams accept this type of objectives (objectives are the meassurement of project sucess). If you take a look to the new Practitioners Guide for Business Analysis you will see that it is clear inside there. Thank you very much for your comments.
Sergio, thanks for the explanation. I understand what you are trying to say now. When I referred to "tangible" benefits post project implementation as one criteria for project success, you are giving an example of "grow 5% market share in the current year". Definitely, this something that the product/service/result will achieve and cannot be on objective of the project but what the product that is delivered as part of the project should achieve. I agree with you here.

Project success should involve "objective" goals and this will anyway be mentioned in the project charter and before that in the business case. The tangible benefits I was referring to was what would be objectively agreed in the project charter (broadly) and detailed in the "requirements baseline" with alignment with the charter and the organization strategy.
I also feel that objective goals of the project sometimes cannot be measures until post implementation, do you agree on this? Your opinion is highly appreciated.

Also, I understand product scope is expected to be broadly defined in the business case, which will be an input for project charter and subsequently this will go into the requirements baseline, which is detailed product scope. But can you tell me how product scope will be not part of project scope (from your insights into what PMI and IIBA are discussing, etc)? Is this from a perspective of defining the product scope only? Because I feel product scope can be defined outside the project broadly only but to realize it, project has to be initiated, which means project scope contains the product scope but from an execution point of view rather from a definition point of view? Appreciate your valuable insights.
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1 reply by Sergio Luis Conte
Jan 03, 2016 8:52 AM
Sergio Luis Conte
...
Let me try to answer all your points with this (by the way I agree with you). I will write the following lines based on the what must be while I understand (and I have been involved lot of times) there are environments where the following things overlaps (and I firmly believe the problems arrives for that). Project manager scope is all the activities to assure that the product/service/result will be delivered as defined with tha defined constraints and assumptions. The Project manager role is not in charge to undestand the business need and define the right solution. But I fully agree that Project manager is key to define a component of the solution because solution is equal to "the thing" to be created PLUS the process to create it (the project). While some of the project activities will be related to define the product/service/result at detailled level most of the times the Project manager is those activities but not the product defintion it self. So, it is outside the scope of control of the project all related to define and design the solution (product plus project) that will solve the business problem which is to transform something because the environment has changed. As Project manager I can assure that thanks the created product the organization will growth 5% in the current year. What I can assure is all needed to created the defined product will be done.
Jan 02, 2016 2:48 PM
Replying to St├ęphane Parent
...
Why, by delivering the baselined scope within the baselined constraints (time & cost), of course!
If project manager has been given the responsibility to realize the business value by successfully planning, executing and delivering the project. How can he/she be not responsible for the business value? Yes, project sponsor defines and owns the business value but project manager will be ultimately responsible for delivering/realizing it.
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1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Jan 02, 2016 5:00 PM
Rami Kaibni
...
Adil, I think you are mixing between the PM responsibilities and what he is accountable for. Please check my reply below and let me know what you is your opinion as well.
Jan 02, 2016 2:48 PM
Replying to St├ęphane Parent
...
Why, by delivering the baselined scope within the baselined constraints (time & cost), of course!
Stephane, I agree with this. The project success and the PM responsibility is to ensure the project / product is delivered within the required time and budget in addition to the required quality. Choosing the projects for their business value and the Project Charter is something outside of the project control. It lies with the sponsor and higher management. Sponsor signs the Project Charter in which the PM is assigned and it initiates the project and the business case is done but through the organization not the project.
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2 replies by Adil Muhammad and Steven Zachary
Jan 03, 2016 2:15 AM
Steven Zachary
...
Yes, when it is framed that way, sure. That is absolutely true.

The PM receives the directive via the BA/EA traced to the business value (problem/opportunity).

I get what you were saying now Stephane.
Jan 03, 2016 2:26 AM
Adil Muhammad
...
Rami, thanks for your inputs. Yes, I agree with you that PM should be held accountable to ensure Project is delivered within the required time and budget to the required quality and to the agreed scope. Also, you are right in saying that "choosing the projects for their business value and the Project Charter is outside the project control".

However, my point was not what happens before the project is initiated. From my point of view, Project is initiated to realize a business value or organization strategy, so business value/goal/objectives are inherent in the project after its initiated and is the basis for the existence of the project. Sponsor or the performing organization chooses to realize the business value/goal/objective by means of Project (they can try to achieve this without initiating a project but we know that wont be mostly successful due to lack of proven process and framework) and hands over the actual execution to Project Manager with necessary support from the performing organization. Don't you think in this situation, PM will be responsible for the realization of business value? All the processes of Project Management is to make sure success delivery of agreed scope within the agreed time, budget and constraints identified in the Project Management plan and I feel business value is inherent.
Its a different matter if business value was not defined correctly in the Project Charter or Business Case but even in this situation, PM is expected to rule out during requirements gathering if the requirements do not align with the business objective/goals in the project charter by recommending to terminate the project. So what we as PM do is realize the business value. Your thoughts on this are welcomed.
Jan 02, 2016 3:54 PM
Replying to Adil Muhammad
...
If project manager has been given the responsibility to realize the business value by successfully planning, executing and delivering the project. How can he/she be not responsible for the business value? Yes, project sponsor defines and owns the business value but project manager will be ultimately responsible for delivering/realizing it.
Adil, I think you are mixing between the PM responsibilities and what he is accountable for. Please check my reply below and let me know what you is your opinion as well.
Jan 02, 2016 4:58 PM
Replying to Rami Kaibni
...
Stephane, I agree with this. The project success and the PM responsibility is to ensure the project / product is delivered within the required time and budget in addition to the required quality. Choosing the projects for their business value and the Project Charter is something outside of the project control. It lies with the sponsor and higher management. Sponsor signs the Project Charter in which the PM is assigned and it initiates the project and the business case is done but through the organization not the project.
Yes, when it is framed that way, sure. That is absolutely true.

The PM receives the directive via the BA/EA traced to the business value (problem/opportunity).

I get what you were saying now Stephane.
Jan 02, 2016 4:58 PM
Replying to Rami Kaibni
...
Stephane, I agree with this. The project success and the PM responsibility is to ensure the project / product is delivered within the required time and budget in addition to the required quality. Choosing the projects for their business value and the Project Charter is something outside of the project control. It lies with the sponsor and higher management. Sponsor signs the Project Charter in which the PM is assigned and it initiates the project and the business case is done but through the organization not the project.
Rami, thanks for your inputs. Yes, I agree with you that PM should be held accountable to ensure Project is delivered within the required time and budget to the required quality and to the agreed scope. Also, you are right in saying that "choosing the projects for their business value and the Project Charter is outside the project control".

However, my point was not what happens before the project is initiated. From my point of view, Project is initiated to realize a business value or organization strategy, so business value/goal/objectives are inherent in the project after its initiated and is the basis for the existence of the project. Sponsor or the performing organization chooses to realize the business value/goal/objective by means of Project (they can try to achieve this without initiating a project but we know that wont be mostly successful due to lack of proven process and framework) and hands over the actual execution to Project Manager with necessary support from the performing organization. Don't you think in this situation, PM will be responsible for the realization of business value? All the processes of Project Management is to make sure success delivery of agreed scope within the agreed time, budget and constraints identified in the Project Management plan and I feel business value is inherent.
Its a different matter if business value was not defined correctly in the Project Charter or Business Case but even in this situation, PM is expected to rule out during requirements gathering if the requirements do not align with the business objective/goals in the project charter by recommending to terminate the project. So what we as PM do is realize the business value. Your thoughts on this are welcomed.
...
1 reply by Rami Kaibni
Jan 03, 2016 6:19 AM
Rami Kaibni
...
Adil, you are welcome and thanls for your great input as well, I agree with everything you've mentioned. Realizing the business value of a project is required by the PM in order for him to achieve this business objective successfully. Yet, the core task of the PM is to deliver the product as required in order to achieve the business value that the project was originally initiated for.
Jan 03, 2016 2:26 AM
Replying to Adil Muhammad
...
Rami, thanks for your inputs. Yes, I agree with you that PM should be held accountable to ensure Project is delivered within the required time and budget to the required quality and to the agreed scope. Also, you are right in saying that "choosing the projects for their business value and the Project Charter is outside the project control".

However, my point was not what happens before the project is initiated. From my point of view, Project is initiated to realize a business value or organization strategy, so business value/goal/objectives are inherent in the project after its initiated and is the basis for the existence of the project. Sponsor or the performing organization chooses to realize the business value/goal/objective by means of Project (they can try to achieve this without initiating a project but we know that wont be mostly successful due to lack of proven process and framework) and hands over the actual execution to Project Manager with necessary support from the performing organization. Don't you think in this situation, PM will be responsible for the realization of business value? All the processes of Project Management is to make sure success delivery of agreed scope within the agreed time, budget and constraints identified in the Project Management plan and I feel business value is inherent.
Its a different matter if business value was not defined correctly in the Project Charter or Business Case but even in this situation, PM is expected to rule out during requirements gathering if the requirements do not align with the business objective/goals in the project charter by recommending to terminate the project. So what we as PM do is realize the business value. Your thoughts on this are welcomed.
Adil, you are welcome and thanls for your great input as well, I agree with everything you've mentioned. Realizing the business value of a project is required by the PM in order for him to achieve this business objective successfully. Yet, the core task of the PM is to deliver the product as required in order to achieve the business value that the project was originally initiated for.
Jan 02, 2016 3:52 PM
Replying to Adil Muhammad
...
Sergio, thanks for the explanation. I understand what you are trying to say now. When I referred to "tangible" benefits post project implementation as one criteria for project success, you are giving an example of "grow 5% market share in the current year". Definitely, this something that the product/service/result will achieve and cannot be on objective of the project but what the product that is delivered as part of the project should achieve. I agree with you here.

Project success should involve "objective" goals and this will anyway be mentioned in the project charter and before that in the business case. The tangible benefits I was referring to was what would be objectively agreed in the project charter (broadly) and detailed in the "requirements baseline" with alignment with the charter and the organization strategy.
I also feel that objective goals of the project sometimes cannot be measures until post implementation, do you agree on this? Your opinion is highly appreciated.

Also, I understand product scope is expected to be broadly defined in the business case, which will be an input for project charter and subsequently this will go into the requirements baseline, which is detailed product scope. But can you tell me how product scope will be not part of project scope (from your insights into what PMI and IIBA are discussing, etc)? Is this from a perspective of defining the product scope only? Because I feel product scope can be defined outside the project broadly only but to realize it, project has to be initiated, which means project scope contains the product scope but from an execution point of view rather from a definition point of view? Appreciate your valuable insights.
Let me try to answer all your points with this (by the way I agree with you). I will write the following lines based on the what must be while I understand (and I have been involved lot of times) there are environments where the following things overlaps (and I firmly believe the problems arrives for that). Project manager scope is all the activities to assure that the product/service/result will be delivered as defined with tha defined constraints and assumptions. The Project manager role is not in charge to undestand the business need and define the right solution. But I fully agree that Project manager is key to define a component of the solution because solution is equal to "the thing" to be created PLUS the process to create it (the project). While some of the project activities will be related to define the product/service/result at detailled level most of the times the Project manager is those activities but not the product defintion it self. So, it is outside the scope of control of the project all related to define and design the solution (product plus project) that will solve the business problem which is to transform something because the environment has changed. As Project manager I can assure that thanks the created product the organization will growth 5% in the current year. What I can assure is all needed to created the defined product will be done.
...
1 reply by Steven Zachary
Jan 03, 2016 1:55 PM
Steven Zachary
...
I think a simple way to rephrase this is a PM typically assists in determining how to meet an objective, dervied from a goal (value). This lines up with what the practice guide recommends.

In most case the PM is handed the rough solution, scope and reference to value (objectives & goals) via the business case.
Indeed the project is initiated because add value to the business by achieving some objectives. But what will deliver business value is not the project. That is the point to consider. And it is hard to define the product/service/result when a project is started to make a transformation inside the business so the project will deliver a result, not a tangible product.
Jan 03, 2016 8:52 AM
Replying to Sergio Luis Conte
...
Let me try to answer all your points with this (by the way I agree with you). I will write the following lines based on the what must be while I understand (and I have been involved lot of times) there are environments where the following things overlaps (and I firmly believe the problems arrives for that). Project manager scope is all the activities to assure that the product/service/result will be delivered as defined with tha defined constraints and assumptions. The Project manager role is not in charge to undestand the business need and define the right solution. But I fully agree that Project manager is key to define a component of the solution because solution is equal to "the thing" to be created PLUS the process to create it (the project). While some of the project activities will be related to define the product/service/result at detailled level most of the times the Project manager is those activities but not the product defintion it self. So, it is outside the scope of control of the project all related to define and design the solution (product plus project) that will solve the business problem which is to transform something because the environment has changed. As Project manager I can assure that thanks the created product the organization will growth 5% in the current year. What I can assure is all needed to created the defined product will be done.
I think a simple way to rephrase this is a PM typically assists in determining how to meet an objective, dervied from a goal (value). This lines up with what the practice guide recommends.

In most case the PM is handed the rough solution, scope and reference to value (objectives & goals) via the business case.
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