When is a project successful?

Project success as defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is based on managing the triple constraint, AKA the iron triangle of cost, scope and schedule. (PMBOK – well it was in the 2008 edition). Criterion count = 3.

Interview most project managers, or look at their resumes and their swagger is derived from completing the project on time, within budget.   Criterion count = 2.

What really counts?

allchangeAll Change! The Project Leader’s Secret Handbook confirms you can succeed on your triple constraints and be rewarded so:

When, eventually, the day of unveiling finally arrived, without fail, a ritual would take place involving the end users, the ones who actually would have to live with the wizardry. As if working to a pre-written script, they would use the words, ‘slow,’ ‘awkward,’ ‘difficult.’ This would be followed by expressions like, ‘once you get used to it’ and ‘why has the screen frozen?’ After a suitable period of silence, the users would decide that there had been much change but little improvement and would begin to demonstrate their ingratitude by insisting on a long list of modifications.

Yes, I am an Eddie Obeng fan.

The more recent literature now has a hexagon with an appreciation that risk, customer satisfaction and resources must be added to the triple constraint. Criterion count = 6.

But Eddie is going in the opposite direction. Criterion count = 1. Voting population = N.

“Project success is and can only be defined by the stakeholders.”

(His highlighting)

Where N includes not only the sponsor, product owner, other stakeholders, but also any vendors you are working with and absolutely your crew too.

How does Mariner measure success?

Mariner measures success based what our stakeholders think of us. We exist to make our clients better and receiving feedback like this is what matters most to us:

By the way, all of our testing has been successful – this is functioning perfectly.  Great job – and thanks for pulling this together as quickly as you did.

The solution . . . he developed for our team is invaluable to say the least and his support from the beginning to present has been unmatched.

You definitely went above and beyond what we expect our consultants to do.  Your focus and dedication to make <the solution> successful is definitely appreciated and noticed.

Her work is what sold this business group on moving ahead with building out a true BI solution. 

We expected to use it for pricing but now we are also using it to measure third party indices . . . It was a great experience.

Huge time savings was the most obvious thing and the near real-time access to the data is also huge.

Now we have greater transparency, more people feel like they are engaged and involved . . . In the end, it is about stimulating innovation . . . and allows them to create great product.

Now we can get the information to the front-line managers quicker and where the point of decision is being made.

Data Analytics Success

Data analytics at its finest is a mélange of good technical work combined with creativity to deliver valuable insight. Good technical work can only be appreciated by a few, but a change in how an organization behaves can be recognized by most everyone and you don’t need a Gantt chart, cost ledger or status dashboard to recognize success. It is all around you.


Peter Darragh

Peter Darragh

Vice President of Delivery at Mariner
In his business development capacity Peter helps executives evaluate the impact digital investments can have on their business models and operations. In his delivery role, he manages the teams that apply their data integration, analytics, process automation and machine learning expertise to make our customers digital masters.

One thought on “When is a project successful?

  1. The proof will be in the eating, won’t it? Personally I think a lot more focus on post-project usage is waranted. Essentially, you need to think about, build and make use of a system. In my experience, the most succesful projects are those that provide ample attention to usage:

    How often is the system being used?
    How many new users does the system count over time?
    How frequently do people use the system?
    What makes a user decide to consult the system?
    Why do people disengage from a system?
    Where can the user go to get new reports, or ask for new information to be integrated? How much effort does this take? How much time does it take the BI team to respond?
    How is the BI training set up:
    what % is about building stuff, how much focus is there on using certain reports, why would users need to care?

    Yes, building a system will be about technical knowhow, and setting up valuable workshop sessions with key-users. It will undoubtedly be about understanding BI concepts and how they mightbring value to the users.

    Of course you need to think before you build and test after, but …

    Maybe the secret to succes is about answering the question each individual user will be asking: ‘What’s in it for me?’

    Just my 2c


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