Measuring IT Project Success

I read a very interesting survey about IT project success yesterday, done by Scott Ambler.  Check out the details of the survey at   This is really interesting project data and well worth a look!

What really struck me about the survey was the thought that we project managers do not use the correct measures for project success.  Or perhaps we use them but do not prioritize them properly on our projects.   After all, most projects start out with the customer wanting maxmum capabilities and being willing to pay for them.  It’s only as things get going that we discover we have an inadequate budget, and incorrect or incomplete scope of capabilities and that we are quite short on time.

Scott’s survey defines a successful IT project based upon the definition provided by the survey respondent, versus providing specific measurements as many other surveys of project success seem to do.  The five criteria that are key components of a successful project are scope, time, staff, money and quality.  These are pretty traditional, don’t you think?

Scott points out that respondents prioritize the five success criteria with quality was the most important criteria, followed by scope, time, staff, and money respectively.  As a matter of fact, 87.3% of the survey respondents believed that delivering a high quality solution was more important than delivering that solution on time and on budget.  

Closely linked to a quality outcome is meeting stakeholder needs.  Respondents consider this more important than building the system to its specification.  Of course, if we defined and agreed-upon those needs and managed changes along the way, the specifications would be correct and complete, wouldn’t they?

Susan Weese

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