Historically, success has been defined as meeting the customer’s expectations, regardless of whether “the customer” was internal or external. Furthermore, success has also meant getting the job done within the constraints of time, cost, and quality. Using this standard definition, success could be visualized as a singular point on a time, cost, quality/performance grid. But how many projects, especially those requiring innovation, can possibly reach this exact point?
Very few project are ever completed without tradeoffs or scope changes on time, cost, and quality. Therefore, success might still occur without exactly hitting this singular point. In this regard, success might be better defined as a cube, such as seen in Figure below. The singular point of time, cost, and quality would be a point within the cube.
Success: point or cube?
Another factor to consider is that there may exist both primary and secondary definitions of success, as shown in Table 11–1. The primary definitions of success are seen through the eyes of the customer. The secondary definitions of success are usually internal benefits. If achieving 86 percent of the specification is acceptable to the customer and follow-on work is received, then the original project might very well be considered as a success.
It is possible for a project management methodology to identify primary and secondary success factors. This could provide guidance to a project manager for the development of a risk management plan, as well as help the project manager decide which risks are worth taking and which are not acceptable.
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