We recently analysed 700 projects across 24 industries;
Air Conditioning, Catering, Commercial Cleaning, Construction, Electrical Engineers, Energy Suppliers, Engineering, Facilities Management, Field Service Management, Health and Safety Consultancy, Industrial, Installation Company, IT Services, Joinery, Laundry Services, Plumbing and Heating, Property Maintenance (CMMS), Renewable Energy, Security, Service Management, Transport, Utility Suppliers, Waste Management, Window / Glazing to answer the question:
What are Critical Success Factors in Project Management?
We looked at Senior Management Support, Project Scope, Goals, Plans, Leadership & Team, Roles & Responsibilities, Bet Practices, Communication, Stakeholder Participation, Risk Management, Change Management, On Time Delivery, On Budget Delivery, Customer Satisfaction and Quality Assurance (QA) process in 700 projects across 24 industries. We even looked at project management software tools used by these projects.
With the help of our data partners, we uncovered some interesting findings in successful project management.
And today we are going to share what we found with you.
Summary of our Key Project Management Success Factors Findings:
- Senior management support remain an extremely important project management success factor. We found that the number of projects which has senior management support correlated with project success more than any other factor.
- Our data also shows that a project’s realistic planning strongly correlates with higher success rate.
- We discovered that projects with clearly documented requirements, significantly succeeded than the projects that didn’t have documented requirements. Therefore, documenting all the project requirements & having approval for the same in place may help with successful project delivery.
- Based on our analysis, we found that projects which have clear definition of success are highly correlated with successful projects than the projects which doesn’t define project success.
- Expert project manager & skilled team had a reasonably strong correlation with successfully delivered projects. This wasn’t surprising because the project management expert can move the project in right direction in every phase and his skilled team can obviously help him to deliver all tasks accurately within deadlines.
- Our data shows that clearly defined roles & responsibilities of key project members significantly outperformed the projects without clear roles & responsibilities.
- Over 95% successful projects used best practices to execute main tasks and sub tasks of all sizes. We found that majority of failed projects are lacked best practices due to lack of knowledge and resources in place.
- We found that simple yet powerful communication among project management team is one of the most correlated factors of successful projects.
- End user or stakeholder participation matters. Based on the data from our analysis, projects with end user or stakeholder participation had highest success rate than projects without stakeholder participation. We expected this, because of the fact that end user participation helps your project to move in right direction and avoid pitfalls.
- Risk identification & management is one of the most common factors that appears to have a strong influence on project success.
- Project changes are common. Having right change management and control over the project is critical factor correlated with successful projects.
- Despite the fact that quality assurance is the last and most important factor in delivering successful project, it is often the victim of cost cutting in many cases. This factor was moderately correlated with successful projects.
- On-Time Delivery is one the biggest factors that correlates with succeeded projects. Not surprisingly, we found that a project’s success was strongly tied to on-time delivery.
- On-Budget Delivery is the second biggest factor that appears to have a strong impact on the project success.
- A good percentage of succeeded projects have got customer satisfaction in common. In other words, customer satisfaction is the success factor that competes with top 3 project management success factors.
We have provided detailed information & data of our findings below.
Senior Management Support has Strong Influence on Project Management Success
You may have heard that lack of senior management support is often leads to project failure.
In other words, it’s most important to get enough top management support for your project to become successful.
According to our analysis, strong support from high level management has a substantial impact on project success.
Projects with Realistic Planning Tend to Succeed Higher in any Industry
Not surprisingly, we found that a project’s overall realistic planning was strongly tied to project success.
In fact, a project’s overall realistic planning requires accurate realistic plan for all the sub tasks. Realistic planning demands domain expertise at project manager level to suggest accurate timelines, budget, resources and son on.
It also requires skilled team to meet the project deadlines.
Documenting Project Requirements May Improve Success Rate
In the early days of project management, project manager used get all project requirements in place whenever they needed. Due to miscommunication, lack of information integrity and some other factors, project’s on budget delivery used fail.
Documenting project requirements can also enable enough support from top level management.
Projects with Clear Definition of Success have Succeeded Higher than Projects without Success Definition
Does projects with clear definition of success outperform projects without success definition?
We turned to our research data set to answer this question.
After filtering outliers from our data set (projects with easily achievable success definition and impossible to achieve success definition), we found that projects with clear definition of success significantly succeeded than projects with no success definition.
Project Management Expert & Skilled Team is Highly Correlated with Project Success
Project management expert has the ability to negotiate project delivery timelines, budget, resources, skilled team, etc. So that he can deliver the project successfully.
What does our research data say?
Expert project manager & skilled team was strongly correlated critical success factor for all projects.
Clearly Defined Roles & Responsibilities of Key Project Members has huge Impact on Project Success
We typically recommend that clearly defining roles and responsibilities of project team members is crucial to meet deadlines.
There are 2 reasons:
First, project manager can easily ensure that whether he covered all tasks. Clearly defined roles of team members can ensure the timely delivery of all tasks.
Second, clearly defined responsibilities can ensure that whether the team members are skilled.
Projects which used Best Practices at every Phase Tend to Succeed Better than Projects without Best Practices
Industry studies have found that projects which used principles and best practices tend to deliver more successful projects in every industry.
This suggests that including proven best practices at every task level can boost turn around time without compromising quality, accuracy and completeness of the tasks.
To measure the impact of “best practices” use on project success we looked at the presence or absence of a best practice in the project.
According to our research data, using at least one best practice in your project is significantly better than having no best practice at all.
When we checked the relation between the total number of best practices and project success, we found reasonably strong correlation.
For example, here are 5 projects from various industries which used Easy to use yet Powerful Project Management Software available online.
Using project management tools like this can highly boost your project success rate. Because of the fact that project mangers can easily manage their tasks and team at one place.
Project managers of various industries can easily check unassigned tasks, active tasks, completed tasks, total tasks, budget and so on.
It’s one of the best practice which makes your project management paperless, helps you manage your team and tasks, track the project status, set timelines and so on.
This suggests that proven best practices are one of the key success factors for any project.
Effective Communication in Project Management was 80% Correlated with Successful Project Delivery
Industry studies have suggested that effective communication in project management was strongly tied to project success.
The Project Management Institute suggests that a project manager should spend around 90 % of his time communicating!
End user or Stakeholder Participation Moderately Correlates with Successful Project Management
Does end user participation really matters?
We asked our data…
After filtering useful data from our data set we discovered that projects with end user participation have moderate impact on success.
This is because of the fact that end user participation helps in improving the customer satisfaction which may result in better success rate.
Risk Identification & Management has Very Strong Influence on Successful Project Management
In every industry, project managers have some kind of risk management policy. Projects which completely ignore risk management are more likely to fail. Because changes are common in every project.
But some changes may come up with huge risk which demands extra resources and timelines. This effects on time delivery, on budget delivery and customer satisfaction. Failing in above three areas is considered as project failure.
According to our data, risk identification & management is one of those key factors that cannot be overlooked.
Projects Including Change Management have Significantly Better Correlation with Successful Project Management
Like risk identification & management, change management is equally important.
Proper change management policy can help you avoid major changes in the project which may result in project failure.
Successful change management uses documented process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of change and achieves the desired business outcome.
What our data has to say?
After filtering minor changes that can be ignored and major changes which are impossible to execute in the middle of the project. We have found that change management plays a vital role in the project management.
Ignoring this step may result in project failure.
Quality Assurance (QA) = Customer Satisfaction
Despite the fact that quality assurance is essential factor to deliver desired outcome it is often effected by the cost cutting and deadlines.
In reality, a huge number of project managers either skip or do it half way due to time limitations or cost cutting.
Is it possible to replace Quality Assurance with any other Project Management Factor?
Here is what our data suggests:
We found that Quality Assurance is the key factor that strives to meet product or service quality standards. It cannot be replaced with other factors because of the fact that it has various tools and techniques to form its basis.
For example, QA deals with cost benefit analysis, cost of quality, control charts, bench marking and quality management methodologies like six sigma and so on.
QA must be implemented during the project, so that the project manager can ensure that every module holds its quality standard.
However, we found that Quality Assurance (QA) is moderately correlated with project management success.
On Time Delivery Significantly Correlates with Project Success
Majority of projects are considered as succeeded if the project delivery meets its deadline.
Many projects were failed even after on time delivery, because the original success definition was not met.
Our research shows that on time delivery is the deciding factor of project success in most cases.
On Budget Delivery Significantly Correlates with Success Rate
Majority of projects are considered as succeeded if the project delivered on time and on budget.
Project managers are committed to deliver the project on time and on budget. Failing one of these factors will be considered as project failure.
Let’s look into our research data;
Our research shows that on budget delivery is the equally important success factor like on time delivery.
Customer Satisfaction is Strongly Associated with Successful Project Management
If you have to mention a single metric of successful project management, customer satisfaction is the one.
Every project manager strives to satisfy customer throughout the project. But the obvious question is,
Why are they so dissatisfied with the end product or service?
Here’s what we found from our research;
There is information gap and the sponsors don’t understand it unless until project manager make them understand.
Here is the gap, traditional triangle of Time, Cost and Quality. When your sponsor adds a scope, it require more time and money.
But, in most cases your sponsor would assume that the newly added scope would also fit into the current Time, Cost and quality triangle. It is not realistic in most cases.
Successful Project Management is a combination of many factors mentioned above. Every factor plays a vital role and contributes to the Project Management success.
When we started this study, we thought it is impossible to conduct this kind of study because of the complex nature of project management especially when it has to deal with 24 different industries.
After countless hours of brainstorming and discussions with project management experts, we landed on some tools and methods which made this study possible.
Special thanks to our data partner…the London based Web Design and Development company used cutting edge tools and methods to make this study possible. It’s a UK’s favorite go to company for web development needs.