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Difference between project success and failure

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This might seem like a stupid question, but I assure you it's not! I want to know the differences between project success and project failure, maybe a comparison between the two. For example, in project success, the costs are exactly as planned in the budget, during project failure, we are way over budget...
asked 10 years ago by anonymous

1 Answer

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I don't think it's a stupid question...

Often project success and project failure are confused? What makes a project a success? Is it having the project on time, on budget, on scope? That's called project management success but not project success.

A project can succeed from a project management perspective, but still can be a total failure. Having said that, what is it that really makes a project a success?

The answer to this question is subjective, and, in my opinion, it should be defined in the project charter. Some projects may be considered a success if the project is done (and that's why the definition of done should also be included in the project charter), others are considered a success if the end product or service are generating money for the company. So a project success really depends on how the project stakeholders define it.

Now what is project failure? In my opinion, a project fails when one of two of the following happens:

- It is canceled/killed after being initiated and before it's finished.
- It fails to qualify as successful from the stakeholder's perspective, which means that a project can still be finished late, over-budget, without having all the deliverables, and still be considered a success.

Finally, you have to understand that it's not you, the project manager, that determines if a project is successful or if a project has failed, it is your client/customer, as well as your stakeholders.
answered 10 years ago by MaplePM (46,940 points)

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