Which project success factor do you find most difficult to manage?

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begeland
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Which project success factor do you find the most difficult to manage? I generally consider budget, timeframe and customer satisfaction to be the main three success determiners, though many consider quality to be a key determiner as well...which - along with timeframe and budget play into the overall customer satisfaction factor, I guess.

For me, budget seems to be one of the biggest challenges. So many issues can come up on the project to challenge your project financial success. With timeframe you can sometimes ramp up to meet deadlines by adding resources, but this will kill your budget. The key for me is to stay on top of the budget by managing it weekly - forecasts against actuals - and revising the forecast at every turn. My stance has always been that it is far easier to correct a 10% budget overrun than a 50% overrun...so stay on top of it and be aware so it never gets too far out of hand.

What are your biggest challenges to manage when trying to bring home a successful project?
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kwalford
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Hi Brad,

Strangely enough, one of the problems I come across is getting the client to define what success is. If they cannot define success themselves, success is never going to be established. Does anyone have any tips for establishing success factors with customers?

As we know, success factors need to be objective (SMART) and measurable. A lot of the projects I managed are fixed scope and budget, so time is the only success factor or x amount of downtime during the install, for example.
NickC
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kwalford wrote:Hi Brad,

Strangely enough, one of the problems I come across is getting the client to define what success is. If they cannot define success themselves, success is never going to be established. Does anyone have any tips for establishing success factors with customers?

As we know, success factors need to be objective (SMART) and measurable. A lot of the projects I managed are fixed scope and budget, so time is the only success factor or x amount of downtime during the install, for example.
Both my customers and senior management always fail to provide definitions for success.
I have no choice but to approach the project as a fact finding mission, interpret what I believe it is they want, document it and then get them to sign up to it.

I know this has it's risks regarding whether you end up delivering something that actually works based on your own interpretation of customer requirements, but if you are working on projects with subject areas you are familiar with it helps.

Sometimes it helps to be able to set your own objectives.
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dhaughey
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Hi Kit,

I always find it surprising that people have difficulty defining what success means for their projects.

I manage a lot of IT development projects and encounter this issue, especially when it comes to websites. A website seems like something you should have these days, when everyone else has one, but is its purpose clearly defined? If you are building an e-commerce website, to put your retail business on-line, then fine. But, what if your site is more promotional, corporate or informational, what are the success factors then?

I'd suggest that if you cannot say what the success factors are for a project, in a few sentences, there is a serious question mark over the project and whether it should start.

In this situation I ask my clients, "in 25 words or fewer, what would you define as the critical success factors for your project?" Make sure whatever they say is measurable. This way you can be definite about whether you've met their success criteria at the end of the project.

Running a project to produce something because everyone else has one, or just 'keeping up with the Joneses' are not good reasons.

Any other thoughts?

Cheers,
Duncan
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kwalford
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Thanks Duncan, I will bear your comments in mind.
class-g
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From my point of view, environmental factors are the biggest issue on projects.
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