Can You Guarantee Project Success?

Does using all the right processes, tools and techniques guarantee project success? Does having all the right credentials and training mean you cannot fail?

The short answer is no, it doesn’t.

Managing projects well is all about increasing the chances of project success and reducing the chances of project failure.

You can be the most experienced project manager in the world with all the right credentials and experience. Furthermore you can be using the most appropriate methodology and constantly reviewing progress and yet still somehow, the project is a failure through events you simply cannot control. Conversely there are many incompetent people inappropriately called project managers with no sense of best practice who make things up as they go along that somehow, against all odds, deliver a project successfully.

So why bother?

Because, there is a far greater chance of success for those experienced and professional project managers. There is also a far greater chance of project failure for the inexperienced unprofessional project leaders. The problem seems to be when one of the inexperienced ones has a success they tend to crow about it and highlight the fact they finally succeeded and make it seem the norm when its not.

I assume that if you are reading this blog you fall into the category of professional project manager who has many more successes than failures. So here are some tips to help increase the chances of project success.

  1. Define exactly what metrics are being used to define a successful project. Is it simply time and cost, or does it include other factors such as health and safety, customer satisfaction, environmental impact and reputation.
  2. Make sure your stakeholders know that you can’t guarantee project success – don’t set unreasonable expectations but balance that with a realistic appraisal of the chances of success, and don’t paint too gloomy a picture.
  3. Get the experience your need to be able to positively affect the chances of project success. This experience can come from your own experience on the job, it can also come from mentoring.
  4. Rely on the experience on others, often captured in a professional body of knowledge such as the PMBOK® Guide.
  5. Get the training, and if necessary the credentials, appropriate to the type of projects you are working on. Formal training takes you experience and helps it grow faster.

And finally, when you do have a successful project make sure everyone knows about it!