I view that there are two types of project success;
- Achieving Project Success Criteria.
- Delivering Business Benefits to the organisation.
Achieving Project Success Criteria (PSC):
How do I know I've done a great job?
This type of success is measure by the Project Success Criteria. Derlivering a Project to the Project Success Criteria (PSC) will show that the PMT has delivered the project successfully. For example, project being delivered & completed before 1st June 2013. PSC's are measured at the end of the project and used to gauge the projects overal success. The criterion must be concise and measurable; agreed and stated by the sponsor early on in the project.
Delivering Business Benefits to the organisation:
How much have the project benefits improved the business's strategy?
Project is also a success when it delivers tangible benefits into the customer organisation, which are closely aligned with the corporate strategy. The PM needs to work with the customer to understand the business need and ensure that the project will add tangible benefit to the business need defined by the sponsor. Example, if the new CRM product reduced product lead time by 25% when compared to the current 10 working days. The project could be completed to the defined PSC's, but if it does not deliver tangible business benefit then the projects success is questionable. Improving (or adding) business benefit is the purpose of a project.
On a different note, if the project delivers all the deliverables, to the defined product acceptance criteria, but the project does NOT meet the PSC's, then is the project classed a failure? Even though the project delivered all the products to the required quality level.