Critical Success Factors in Projects

The answer to “do you want it to be successful” is likely to be the same. But the answer to “what do you mean by success” will be varied. Everyone has different views on what success is, probably due to their unique desire, the requirement, or focus at that time.

Similarly, each project has its own definition of success.

Organisations undertake projects because they want to make measurable improvements in one or more aspects of their business. Measurable improvements also apply to projects which deliver outputs to satisfy regulatory requirements. On the other hand, not delivering the output could have a detrimental effect on the organisation and measurable cost.

Let’s have a look into how the success is defined and measured in PRINCE2 and applied at Insentra.

DEFINING PROJECT SUCCESS

PRINCE2 recommends using Business Cases to establish mechanisms to judge whether the project is (and remains) desirable, viable and achievable, and to support decision-making in its investment. The Business Case theme is central to PRINCE2 projects as it is at the heart of why a project is being done.

The Business Case is developed at the beginning of the project and includes Output, Outcome and Benefits. In PRINCE2, projects deliver outputs in the form of products which create outcomes and benefits. For example, a Citrix upgrade implementation project delivers the output of a highly available Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops platform, which improves supportability, stability, performance, functionality, and efficiency, and reduces system management overhead and cost.

At Insentra, we define project success via Critical Success Factors, which we run through in both the internal kick off meeting and the external/ customer project kick off meeting. The success definition is then captured in the kick-off summary and shared with project stakeholders to be signed off. By defining the Critical Success Factors, the project team can be aligned on the goals the project aims to achieve.

TRACKING PROJECT SUCCESS

Throughout the life of the project the Business Case is reviewed and updated as it develops and evolves. Business Justification should be developed and remain valid. In most cases the project costs, timescale, products and risks will not be sufficiently understood to provide a robust justification of the project, so the initial version will need further development and refinement as the project progresses. The Business Justification drives decision-making to ensure the project remains aligned with the benefits being sought which contribute to the business objectives.

Business Justification can take many forms. At Insentra we manage project cost, timeline and scope strictly by reviewing with consultants and customers frequently and manage project risks and issues via the RAID (Risk, Assumptions, Issues, Dependencies) log.  We report on a weekly basis to all project stakeholders. When there is a forecast variance, we follow our project governance methodology and change control process to raise change requests for review by consultants, gain endorsement by the solution team and approval by executives and clients.  This ensures the variance is understood and agreed, and project success Factors is maintained.

PROJECTS SUCCESS VS. COMPANY VISION

You may have often heard and seen a company Vision Statement. By definition, a Vision Statement is a company’s road map, including what the company wants to become by setting a defined direction for the company’s growth. At Insentra, our vision is ‘To be the number one channel services company on the planet. We do this by being the best version of ourselves, creating an outstanding environment for our team, loving the work we do and amazing each other, our partners and their clients in every way.’

There are two parts in the Vision Statement. 1. What is the goal, and 2) How to achieve the goal.

Critical Success Factors can be viewed as a project’s Vision Statement – defining project objectives and how to achieve project success. The link from the project’s outputs to outcomes and benefits needs to be clearly identified and made visible to those involved in the project, otherwise there is a danger that the original purpose of the project can get lost and benefits will not be realised.  

Did you find value in reading this article? How do you establish and track Critical Success Factors in your projects?

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