Spelling out Project Success

Spelling out project success

Traditionally a project’s success is attributed to the effectiveness of  project managers’ ability to attain project’s goals and objectives by balancing the three fundamental constraints: schedule, scope and cost. Through our earlier posts, we have tried to enunciate that all these can be improved through a disciplined execution of a strong PPM strategy.

In my opinion, in today’s times it is also very crucial to spell out success that goes well beyond these corporeal aspects of the project. This is especially true considering the rise in distributed & virtual teams (Read: Top 5 Project Management Trends for 2014) and the never-ending quest for right leadership model for projects (Read: Top 10 Project Management trends  for 2014).

In this blog, I will attempt to provide a more holistic definition for project success, by attributing concepts to each letter of the word success:

Sharper Focus

The key here is to know your priorities and maintain your concentration throughout the project’s lifecycle. This gives a clear sense of direction. One without the other is nothing. With project management roles no longer restricted to IT (See Tech Republic’s blog), it is more than necessary to nurture a mindset wherein every employee thinks like a project manager. This makes every member accountable for his or her role in the project, thus solidifying the very foundation on which projects succeed. This requires a cultural change. It is tough to implement, but not optional, period.


As a Project Manager, one needs to rise above the mindset of managing and delivery. He/she needs to understand that there are numerous stakeholders at play, each of whom has a vested interest in the project. It is important to recognize that stakeholder satisfaction is as critical as managing the project triangle. Not only should he/she attend to the sponsor or the leadership team, but also heed the (unsaid) demands of his/her project team.

Continuous Learning

According to Tim Harford, Financial Times columnist and author of Adapt: Why Success Always Starts With Failure, “Success comes through rapidly fixing our mistakes rather than getting things right the first time.” During the course of the project, there could be some decisions that go awry.  But it is important to accept them, learn your lessons  from them and more importantly, avoid repeating them. As a Project Manager, one also needs to promote a continuous learning environment for the project team. This enables them to continually refresh and update their skills, both for their personal growth as well as for the performance of the organization at large.


Effective communication can make or mar a project’s success. According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report on The Essential Role of Communications, of the two in five projects that fail to meet original goals, one of them does so because of ineffective communications. The report sees communication as a core competency that connects every member of the project team to a common set of  strategies, goals and actions.


This point goes hand-in-hand with my earlier point on continuous learning. Robin Sharma, a renowned leadership expert  and author of The Leader Who Had No Title, quotes in his book, “Regardless of what you do within your organization or the current conditions of your life, it is absolutely essential for you to remember that you have the power to show leadership where you are now planted – and shine at brilliance in all that you do.” Essentially the continuous learning environment that you create for your project should also be conducive to strive for excellence.

Support New Ideas

Research suggests that a project manager spends almost 90% of his/her time communicating. The question is communicating what? It should not be just confined to communicating work assignments, delegation, or important project milestones. At times they just need to listen to their team members and support new ideas. They need to encourage people to take calculated risks, because risk is crucial to innovation. They also need to back it up with new ideas for risk management and prioritize collaboration and team work.

Stress Innovation

This brings me to the last ‘S’ of ‘Success’. And here I want to emphasize on  stress management. Projects are undoubtedly stressful. Soma Bhattacharya, an ex-Project Manager has a fantastic post on finding ways and means to beat stress.  In the end, it is up to you and your project team on how you find innovative ways to overcome stress in your projects. See which of these personas you resemble.

Blog Author: Sanket Pai, Head, Customer & Product Experience at Celoxis

Sanket Pai





About Celoxis:

Celoxis is a comprehensive project management tool that helps companies streamline management of projects, time sheets, expenses and business processes, specific to their organization. Over the last decade, Celoxis has specialized in delivering improved collaboration and increased efficiency for teams of all sizes, both in SMB and Enterprise segments. To know more visit www.celoxis.com 

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