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Conditions for Project Success

Conditions for project success

APM research report

APM’s Conditions for Project Success is a piece of independent research that seeks to identify the core factors which lead to the successful delivery of projects, programmes and portfolios. The principal findings arising from the research were launched at the APM Conference in March 2015.

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Who is the intended audience?

The research is primarily designed to promote the importance of professional project management to senior project executives and influencers. However, the findings are relevant to anyone with an interest in the successful delivery of projects, programmes or portfolios.

Why is it important?

Trillions of pounds are invested in projects, programmes and portfolios every year. The cost of failure can have a catastrophic effect on the economy, environment, and society. APM recognises that the environment in which the projects, programmes and portfolios operate, the conditions for project success, are at the heart of improving project outcomes.

Who took part in the research?

Over 850 project professionals and thought leaders from across the private and public sector were asked to rate their most recent projects and the contributing success factors.

What did you discover?

The research identified 12 success factors, otherwise known as APM’s framework for success. From this, five factors were found to have ‘the strongest and most consistent relationship’ with the traditional measures of project success: time, cost and quality. These were:

1. Project planning and review

Pre-project planning should be thorough and considered, with monitoring and review throughout the project.

2. Goals and objectives

The overall goal of the project should be clearly specified and recognised by all stakeholders involved in the project.

3. Effective governance

The project needs to have clear reporting lines and regular communications between all parties.

4. Competent project teams

The project professionals leading, or forming a core team, need to be fully competent.

5. Commitment to success

All parties involved in the project must be, and remain, committed to the project’s success.

What are the main challenges?

Although APM’s success framework was overwhelmingly supported by survey respondents, it is often not applied in practice. For example, only 4% rated project planning and review as excellent, while 14% said it was either poor or absent from their last project. Similarly, effective governance was only moderately good or absent in 48% of cases.

Where can I read more?

The Conditions for Project Success  highlights report can be downloaded for free.
The original research report and literature review are also available. Additional resources include
blogs , news stories and articles.

Conditions for Project Success full report

Conditions for Project Success highlights report

Conditions for Project Success Literature Review

Factors in project success

With inputs from a literature review, depth interviews with senior project professionals and educators, and the deliberations of APM and its partners, a framework of project success factors has been developed.

The framework has 12 main success factors, each with a small group of contributory or subsidiary success factors. This framework was used as the basis of an on-line survey of 862 project professionals (divided equally between APM members and non-members).

Respondents were asked to say how important each factor in the framework is to project success in general (and to suggest amendments and additions), to rate their most recent project as to its success, and to report the degree to which each success factor was in place in that most recent project.

Respondents to the survey were widely varied in respect of age, length of project experience, sectors, types and values of project, and project roles. However, there was particularly strong representation of middle-aged and older respondents who worked in senior positions on high value projects.

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