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.