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Project Management Success Factors

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Introduction

Project is a temporary, unique and novel endeavor having a clear finish date (Project Management Institute, 2013). Project success has been a hot topic of debate for the last few decades. A lot of research and study has been done in this respect but the results are elusive rather than conclusive. The fundamental reason behind this is the unique nature, size and complexity of a project. Project success is a perceived concept and there is a wide divergence of opinions concerning this. Early research on project success was done keeping into account the golden triangle of time, budget and required levels of quality (Belassi, 1996). Failure to meet this expectations/standards, the project was considered as a failure. However, in the last two decades, the focus has been more on organizational and management success. The assessment of project success is done by different interest groups- (Stockholders, managers, customers and employees). Therefore, assessment of project success must be done in accordance to different views (Stuckenbruck, 1986)

(Baccarini, 1999) identified the two distinct sources of project success:

  • Project Management Success- Emphasizes on project process and the successful accomplishment of golden triangle (cost, time and quality). Also, it addresses the way a project was conducted.
  • Product Success- Deals with the effects of product's final outcome.

Project success is of prime most importance as a vast majority of the projects fail, incurring huge amounts of losses (resources and time). To overcome this, prominent researchers have adopted a two-dimensional method of addressing project success, namely project success criteria and success factors.

PROJECT CRITICAL SUCCESS CRITERIA AND CRITICIAL SUCCESS FACTORS   

Project success criteria are the set of guidelines and standards used to review the success or failures of a project. These are dependent on a lot of factors/variables and will be subject to variation in perception by different stakeholders. Traditionally, project success criteria were dependent on the golden or iron triangle (cost, time and quality). Conversely, it was later on discovered that success criteria couldn't be measured based on these factors alone as the perception of project success varies from person to person. Furthermore, research also shows that it is impossible to generate a standard specification of success criteria apposite for all projects. Assessment of project was done on different criteria's, including utility of the final project, client satisfaction, and the probability of making use of the finished project (Slevin & Pinto, 1986). Although different researches have different opinions, there is a general consensus regarding the result areas, which covers the entire issue of project success in the broadest sense. Some of the key elements of project success criteria are as follows:

  • Stakeholders Appreciation.
  • User Appreciation.
  • Appreciation by contracting partners.
  • Appreciation by project personnel.
  • Appreciation by users.
  • Client appreciation.
  • Time.
  • Quality.
  • Cost.
  • Project efficiency.

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements. (Project Management Institute, 2013). A lot of significant research work has been carried out in the field of project management to identify and determine the critical success factors. Eminent researchers , Pinto and Slevin were the first to develop a Project management tool, named Project Implementation Plan (PIP) and identification of critical success factors (Slevin & Pinto, 1986). These factors were widely accepted and also used by other researchers (Scott-Young & Samson, 2004) . Furthermore, it was also realized that due to complexities and subtleties of projects, this method wasn't very effective and the Project implementation tool (PIP) was used to examine the Critical success Factors (CSF) over different project life cycles (Pinto & Prescott, 1998) (Adams, 1978) (King & Cleland, 1983). The various Critical Success Factors associated with the different project life cycle's are as follows:

  • Project Initiation or Conceptualization Phase:

(Success factors- Definition of goals, project objectives, project summary and client appreciation). (Morris & Hough, 1987)

  • Project Planning Phase :

(Success factors- Scope definition, project strategy, selection of team members, work breakdown structure (WBS), resource allocation, client acceptance and management support). (Cleland & King, 1983) (Belassi, 1996)

  • Project Execution Phase:

(Success factors- Scheduling, technical works, trouble-shooting, monitoring and feedback, innovation and quality control) (Morris & Hough, 1987)

  • Project Closing or Terminating Phase:

(Success factors- Client feedback, work review, technical tasks, client consultation, project reports.) (Belassi, 1996)

Furthermore, the success factors can also be divided into major groups covering all the aspects and elements of project management (Westerveld, 2002). These are as follows:

  • Management of Human Resources:

(Team and leadership, Project manager, stakeholder Management)

  • Project Process:

(Planning, scheduling, controlling, monitoring, quality and risk)

  • Organizational Factors:

(Resources , policy , organizational structure)

  • Technical Factors:

(Procurement, Contractor, technical works and novelty)

  • External Factors:

(Skilled human resources, experience, project size, project uniqueness, management support structure, political stability, environment and other natural hazards)

Thus, it can be concluded that project success criteria emphasizes more on the result oriented areas, whereas; success factors focus more on the organizational areas of a project (Westerveld, 2002). At the same time, they both act as excellent guidelines for the management team to formulate and device their strategy, implementing and executing them in order to achieve direct or indirect project success. Also, researchers have found that that human resource management accelerates projects success more than technical skills (Scott-Young & Samson, 2004). Project managers play a pivotal role when it comes to successful delivery of projects. Due to the complexity and uniqueness associated with each project, it is of outmost importance for a project manager to develop and adopt a multi-dimensional approach. As the project manager has to focus on multiple variables, it is essential for the project manager to get his management team onboard as quickly as possible and define project goals, scope and execution plan. A project manager must realize and understand the client and organization's expectations and design a bespoke plan of action taking into account the success criteria and success factors.


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