VOICES Project Toolkit
How do you define and/or measure success?
When it comes to project management, success has
many definitions. For some project managers, it means
something tangible, like a high percentage of projects
completed on time and within budget. Others see
success as stemming from effective communications or
stakeholder management. We asked practitioners:
Two Scales of Success
A project manager’s success level can be
examined in two parts: success on a particu-
lar project and the number of successfully
To measure success on a certain project, hard metrics
include meeting milestone dates, cost targets, project quality
requirements and risk, safety, health, environmental and
security requirements. But it’s also important to measure the
project manager’s performance as a team leader by collecting
feedback from all individuals who worked with him or her.
Ask questions like: Was the project manager able to
motivate the team during tough times? How did the project manager ensure the team accomplished the ultimate
project objectives? How well did the project manager communicate with all stakeholders of the project? Was he or
she able to earn the respect of the team and stakeholders?
Then, after working on a number of projects, the project
manager’s accumulated performance in all previous projects also can be measured and analyzed on a grander scale
using the aforementioned metrics.”
—Muhammad Usman Habib, PMP, lead project engineer,
SABIC, Jubail, Saudi Arabia
Define Success From the Start
The definition of success should be stated
up front in the project’s scope. Then, if a
project manager meets those criteria, he
or she is successful. Determining what success looks
like from the early stages in the project ensures that
the project manager will be measured against objective
metrics, instead of subjective ones.
In my company, our concern is always: time, cost
and scope, plus quality of work. Our client’s concern is
meeting their commitments with external parties and
customers. The difference between our priorities and
client priorities was not always clear to both parties,
which sometimes led to conflict.
My company introduced the term ‘success criteria’ in
October 2010, and made it a part of our scope of work
and project agreement. This way, it’s clear to us and
our clients how failure and success will be measured.
And project managers can focus on delivering what the
client wanted in the first place.”
—Mohammed Khedir Sultan, PMP, senior projects
planner, DAL Engineering Co., Khartoum, Sudan