Identifying Keys to Future Project Successes

Often the key to future project success is to make sure we understand why we have failed in the past.  We can observe along the way, conduct lessons learned sessions with our customers, interview colleagues...the list of options for doing this can go on and on.  What we must be always doing is learning. 

We never want to foolishly repeat mistakes that caused us to fail in the past.  It’s important to understand where other projects went wrong on our path to where we are now in order to avoid facing those problems again. To better ensure the success of a project and to strengthen the ability to deliver on the project to the waiting and anxious customer, the project manager should always remain aware of the following business strategies:

  • Focus on improvements to key business processes. Remain focused on measuring the business improvements - measuring can make them happen.
  • Make sure the end users and solution owner know how to use the solution effectively.  Benefits come from exploitation by the system owners and users. Allow enough time to prepare and train them, or they will not be able to exploit the system effectively.


  • Delivering benefits to the customer must remain top priority throughout.  The delivery of business benefits must remain a senior-level priority throughout the project.


  • Look for add-on benefits and exploit them to increase the customer satisfaction.  Project managers should recognize, in addition to the expected benefits, they need to allow for other benefits to emerge, as the capability of the new system becomes better understood.


  • Ensure post project review and approval.  At the end of each project, conduct an independent review to confirm that planned benefits have been realized and that the lessons learned are recorded and applied to future projects.


  • Focus on the business benefits first.  Overall business benefits are most important – focus on them first, then the technological benefits.


  • Focus on projects that provide genuine benefits.  Project managers should only take on projects when they are confident that the projects support business objectives, and they should then make the support public. Senior management sponsorship is vital.  Make your project visible and get executive buy-in.


  • Plan to achieve measurable improvements. Showing the ability to measure success helps document success and gain overall agreement on the success of the project.


  • Don't "leave it to the professionals." If a project manager delegates responsibility for the management of a project or program, it must be to someone who is accountable to executive management or the company Board for delivering the business benefits.


  • Plan sufficient resources for training.  If a project requires training, and that aspect is overlooked in your project management tool, failure will likely follow. Training is a critical project task and expense that can't be overlooked.


  • Perform consistent in-project reviews.  Review projects to confirm that planned benefits are being realized.


Summary / call for input

These are just a few of the potential hundreds of keys to project successes.  Stick to the basics, stay true to project objectives and focus on business benefits, and you'll likely receive top level customer satisfaction as the project rolls out. 

What about our readers...what would you change on this list or add to it?


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