There are numerous articles on the internet that talk about why projects fail, yet few talk about project success. It is true that a huge number of projects fail to deliver what they had intended to achieve in the outset, and some are even abandoned mid-way. While it can be useful to discuss why projects fail, it is also smart to understand and analyze why projects succeed, so that we can replicate those same success strategies.
Terry Williams, PMP and Dean of Hull University Business School, produced a research paper on why and how projects succeed. His research didn't only measure success using the traditional criteria of a well-run project (time, cost and quality), but also went further to provide six criteria for the success of a project. So, let's have a look at these 6 reasons or causes that make a project successful:
Does your company have an open culture with a flat management structure where despite everyone's job position, they are treated equally? Or does your company have a rigid, multi-layered, hierarchal management structure, where one needs to navigate multiple layers of getting things signed off in order to get the work done? If your company has adopted the former approach, then you are on the right track for achieving project success. But in the latter case, there is some room for improvement.
The single team approach
Also called the 'whole team approach', this is a style of project management in which everyone (client, subcontractors, designers, senior managers and other stakeholders) on the project team are held equally responsible for the quality and success of the project. It is a collaborative approach where all the team members (including in-house team members and external contractors) with the necessary skills and knowledge will do their best to accomplish the tasks or objectives given, thus contributing to the success of the project.
A good project setup firstly needs to clearly identify the objectives or goals. Secondly, it needs to define the plan or process for executing it. And then finally, it must identify the right stakeholders and decision makers - all before being launched, or at least very early in the project, allowing everyone to feel engaged with it, and feel some level of ownership.
If stakeholders, users, clients and various team members have understood the aim of the project and what is expected of them, this paves the way for an efficient project setup, and avoids unnecessary issues and changes in the future.
For a project to be successful, it is vital to keep customers involved throughout the project with subsequent quick response times to their queries and concerns. Customer satisfaction consists of delivering the promise made initially to the customer. A consistent partnership, collaborative engagement and exclusive relationship with the customer contributes immensely to the success of a project.
Subcontractors as part of the project team
Most team do their best to maintain good relations with every team member. But many forget to maintain good and professional relationships with their subcontractors. Very often we take them for granted and don't consider them as a team member but rather as an external service provider. It is true, they are external service providers but including them early in the project and considering them as your own team has its benefits. For example, when applying for a bid, involving them can create a feeling of “if we win it, you win it”, thus leading to fruitful partnerships.
Simply closing a project by organizing a handover meeting is not always enough. Once the project has ended, a clear and efficient transfer of the project to the operations team is very important for the success of a project, as it allows the project team to stay involved with the operations team for some time (from few days to few months) to deal with any follow up issues. Delivering the project without any follow-up woud be like abandoning a new born baby after birth!