What is the project's success criteria?
In order to take the guesswork out of the equation, agreeing on the criteria by which the project will be measured is done at the beginning of the project. The project success criteria will define whether the project will be deemed successful by its major stakeholders upon its completion. This is never an easy task, and each project is judged differently by other criteria.
A project can utilize all of its resources at 100%, use its entire allocated budget and deliver exactly on time but still be labeled a failure since the outcome wasn’t as expected.
This is the difference between efficient and effective: An efficient project uses all of the resources it has at its disposal (time, budget, human resources, machinery, etc.).
An effective project delivers the expected outcome at a reasonable quality. Of course, the goal of any project is to be both.
Setting the Project Success Criteria
Before the criteria are set, the documentation needs to be clearly defined in the following areas :
- The name of the success criteria
- How these criteria will be measured
- When will it be measured?
- Who is responsible for measuring it
According to the project type (technological, R&D, repetitive, IT, etc.), setting the criteria is done according to the scope, timeline, budget, internal/external, and according to the PM, major stakeholders, and client's experience.
The final criteria should be agreed upon between all the major stakeholders of the project (including the customer and vendors) and must be kept in mind throughout the entire lifecycle. All the success criteria can be split into two sections: Internal and External (the client).
Grading the Success Criteria –
Once the criteria are agreed upon, they can be graded. The grade can be a number (between 1-10, 1-5, etc.) or words (fail / pass, as expected / more than expected / not as expected, etc.).
The grade must be given once the project is completed but can be also be done while still in process. Grading guidelines should also be set for each criterion. For example, The cost criterion –
Criteria Weight –
If a number grade is agreed upon, then each criterion can be given a different overall grade weight. For example, the customer satisfaction grade will contribute 25% of the overall grade, while the cost variation will contribute 15%.
28 Examples of Project Success Criteria
- The Project is completed on time.
- The Project is completed on budget.
- The Project meets the appropriate quality targets.
- Project delivered all items within the agreed scope.
- Project deliverables are fit for purpose. Track the project deliverables using Project Deliverables Template.
- The Project meets the commercial objectives for profit, revenue, etc.
- The Project meets the functional requirements.
- The Project meets the non-functional requirements, e.g., scalability, stability, availability, performance.
- Project team satisfaction target is achieved.
- Project handover to the operational team was documented and completed appropriately.
- The training was delivered as planned to the appropriate teams.
- Customer satisfaction target is achieved.
- Customer/Staff awareness about the project was raised to the appropriate level.
- The Project uses the approved technology.
- The Project meets all internal appropriate information security policies.
- The Project meets all internal appropriate other policies, e.g., diversity.
- The Project meets corporate social responsibility targets.
- The Project meets company sustainability and ‘green’ targets.
- The Project meets regulatory and compliance targets, e.g., health and safety, legislation.
- The project meets other targets or benefits identified by the business case.
- Gained CoE (Centre of Excellence) certification
- Human resources were utilized.
- The client officially recommended our company.
- The project improved the business revenue of the client.
- The project was mentioned in the media outlets.
- The project received likes on various social media.
- Innovative tools were produced during the lifecycle.
- This project was used as a baseline for any future projects.
Best Practices for Project Success Criteria –
- Most people will act according to how they are measured, so the criteria set for measuring the projects’ success will affect what they focus on during the lifecycle.
- Quality criteria should be used while measuring the project's success to ensure that this will be a focus area of the employees.
- Periodic meetings should be set in advance to measure the success during the lifecycle. For example: For each gate approval, or in the middle of the cycle.
- Agree on the grading attributes while setting the criteria.