The following Words of Wisdom from various authors are intended to capture
and summarize the most valuable ideas expressed in the conversation about defining
project success. It is a consolidated summary of a long, but important, discussion
on LinkedIn between February 17 and May 9, 2014. It is important because
it represents the collective views of some of the most influential professionals
in the field of project management. Of course, the "success" of a project, means
different things to different people, but what does it mean for the project manager?
Is there any consistent position that a project manager can firmly embrace? Once
again, it all depends ...
To keep the summary manageable, we have chosen to select just 10 of the 63 participants
who contributed during the period, but who also subscribed a total of more than
300 words. The following pages provide an interesting summary from the selected
respondents. Their contributions have been edited to facilitate easier web site
reading. These people are practicing experts and likely represent a condensed
view of the millions of diverse responses already available on the Internet.
Except for the initiator of the conversation that follows, contributors appear
in the order of their first participation in the discussion. In consolidating
the contributions of the participants to the discussion, the conversational thread
may not always be clear, but we have used the "@"
sign as a means of connection to help with continuity. We believe that this situation
is a small tradeoff for the benefit of consolidating the underlying viewpoints.
We hope that you will find this condensed summary useful as we feel that it
represents real-world experience rather than "standard" or academic advocacy.
Introduction by Matthew Weaver, PMP, CSM, ITIL
Matthew started off the LinkedIn conversation with the question:
"How do you define project success?"
Matthew then followed his own question with this observation: While I realize
this is a recurring topic, I note this
morning as I work through the PMBOK
5th edition, that they have added a new section "Project Success" (page 35)
that clarifies rather succinctly the definition of project success and the project
manager's role in it:
"Success of the project should be measured in terms of completing the project
within the constraints of scope, time, cost, quality, resources, and risks as
approved between the project managers [sic] and senior management."
Later, the PMBOK authors write:
"Project success should be referred to the last baselines approved by the authorized
(So much for the Standish reports that instead like to harp on initial scope,
schedule, and cost baselines!)
"The project manager is responsible and accountable for setting realistic and
achievable boundaries for the project and to accomplish the project within the
Nowhere is the project manager responsible for whether the project is a good
idea or not, wanted or not, etc. In fact, it is the responsibility of the project's
sponsor to promote the project, not the project manager. (See PMBOK
How does this fit with, or diverge, from your view of project success from
the project manager's perspective?
1. On LinkedIn,
the "@" sign is used to identify the name of a person to whom a response is
2. For more information about Matthew Weaver and his work, visit
his web site at www.ProjectWeavers.com.
You can reach him by Email at Info@ProjectWeavers.com,
or call toll free (855) 871-9246 (USA)
3. In fact if you do a Google search for "Project Success" you
are likely to get over five million responses and if you search with "Defining
Project Success" you could get around eleven million responses. These figures
suggest that either the subject has been worn to death or there is a lot of room
for differences of opinion and hence that the answer to the question is far from
4. PMBOK® stands for the Project Management Institute's A
Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) Now in its
5th edition, Pennsylvania, 2013.