What is success?

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How does one measure the success of a project? Delivering on time and within budget, sure. But isnt success more than this in the modern world? Is it overcoming complexity? An exemplary health and safety record? Engaging stakeholders? Getting the community involved? Is it a combination of all of these, or is it much, much more?

The Association for Project Managements 2020 Vision has been defined as a world in which all projects succeed. A bold goal indeed, and one that sets the bar high for the profession at large. As the managers of change, success should be at the forefront of any practitioners mind, but, in my opinion, not strangled by the conventional perception of it.

Look around and you will see what many dub as failed projects all around the UK. Take Wembley Stadium for example. Woefully over budget, the original agreed fixed price for the delivery of the 90,000-seat stadium was 458m. The eventual price tag totalled 827m. It was also completed five years past the original deadline.

However, anybody that has been to the great stadium to watch a football match, concert or even a motor race, cannot deny that it is one of the worlds best. What Wembley lacked in conventional project success terms in 2007, it is more than making up for since. Under much criticism at the time of completion, the developers Australian firm Multiplex must certainly be pleased with the final product and deem it a success.

This is one of numerous examples many dubbed the Millennium Done a white elephant but is now a world class sports and entertainment venue.

Of course it would be ludicrous to suggest that any project that is over budget and delivered past the agreed delivery date can be successful, but a broader view of success in this modern age is a must.

What does project success mean to you? Let me know by emailing me, or by commenting below.

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Posted by Andrew Hubbard on 4th Dec 2012

About the Author
Andrew is the editor of Project magazine. He began his career working as a freelance journalist. At the time his clients included Northcliffe and BSkyB. He became editor of Project at the end of June 2012.

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