Criteria For The Project Success Management Essay

Lundin and Soderholm (1995) illustrates the project as a temporary organization and assert the time conception as one of the four distinguishing features of temporary organizations from permanent organizations (task, team and transition are other three distinguishing features). Cleland and King in 1983 (cited in Cooke-Davies, T. J. 2001) adopted a similar approach by the following project definition: “A complex effort to achieve a specific objective within a schedule and budget target, which typically cuts across organisational lines, is unique, and is usually not repetitive within the organisation”. Moreover, recent definitions expanded the project definition to include the product and /or service as the project outcomes. For example Duncan (1996) defines project as “A temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service. Temporary means that the project has a definite ending point and unique means that the product or service differs in some distinguishing way from all similar products or services”. However, as expectations from projects increase, the definitions for project evolved to reflect this. Thus, Turner and Müller (2003) incorporate the idea of beneficial change that product of the project is expected to deliver, to the project definition. Thus, they define a project as a temporary organisation that aims to create a unique service or product that brings added value or delivers beneficial change (Turner and Muller, 2003). Eventhough, there are various project definitions that have been accumulated for almost 50 years, the review of literature revealed that ‘defined start and end’, ‘a common objective’ and ‘complex set of activities’ are the three most common features that are shared by every project and thus present in almost every project definition.

2.2 Project Success:

Although project success is a core project management concept, a review of the project management literature reveals that there is no standardized definition of a ‘project success’ in the project management literature (Baccarini, 1999). The success of a project is perceived differently by different success assessors (Shenhar et al., 2001). Therefore, as Prabhakar (2008, p. 3) noted ‘the only agreement seems to be the disagreement on what constitutes project success’. According to Pinto & Slevin (1988) based on their study conducted with over 650 project managers, the ‘project success’ is not only meeting cost, schedule, and performance requirements rather it requires satisfaction of more complex specifications, such as client satisfaction. Baker, Murphy and Fisher (1983, 1988 as cited in Prabhakar, 2008 and Cooke-Davies, 2001) discuss that client satisfaction has been achieved together with the end result has a vital influence on the perceived success or failure of projects (Prabhakar, 2008). In a similar fashion, Baker, Murphy and Fisher (1983, 1988 as cited in Prabhakar, 2008, p.4) states that “In the long run, what really matters is whether the parties associated with, and affected by, a project are satisfied. Good schedule and cost performance means very little in the face of a poor performing end product”

De Wit (1988), on the contrary, defines project success as the assessment of project outcomes against cost, time and quality (as cited in Cooke-Davies, 2001 and Prabhakar, 2008). However, he points out to a distinction between the project success and project management success, which he defines as measurement of project outcomes against the overall project objectives that will be discussed by most of the researchers interested in this subject area. Furthermore, another attempt at developing a viable foundation for project success definition was by Baccarini (1999), who attempts to contribute to this gap in the literature by his logical framework method (LFM). The LFM model distinguishes between four levels of project objectives, namely goal, purpose, output, and input, provides a comprehensive framework for defining, as well as, comprehending the project success concept. Baccarini (1999), just as some of his colleagues, based his work on De Wit’s (1988) a decade old research. Similarly, Baccarini (1999) differentiates between project management success and the product success, instead of project success. Product success is related with goals and objective, while project management success is related with the project outputs and inputs. On the other hand, another stream of researchers, including Pinto and Slevin (1987), Belassi and Tukel (1996), Lim and Mohamed (1999) prefer not to distinguish between project management success and project success as two distinct concepts rather consider project management success as being part of and contributing to ‘project success’. Lim and Mohamed (1999) took a further step and conducted a study to determine criteria for assessing project success by different stakeholders. Since as Baccarini (1999) notes that criteria for assessing project success has vital importance in preventing the project and its team members from holding different views on project success which contributes to project failure. Therefore, it is fundamental to determine and agree upon the criteria satisfying various stakeholders, who have different perceptions of project success.

2.3 Criteria for the Project Success:

According to Lim and Mohamed (1999, p.243), Success criteria is defined as ‘the set of principles or standards by which project success can be judged’. Early research on project success criteria adopted the so-called Iron Triangle of ‘time, budget and quality’ as the set of principles for evaluating the success of a project. Almost 40 years ago, Oisen (1971) proposed ‘budget, time and quality’ as the project success criteria. Many scholars accepted this set of success criteria but also noted the necessity to take into consideration other criteria for the project Success (Turner, 1993; de Witt, 1998; Pinto and Slevin, 1988). More recently, this set of criteria has been evaluated as being insufficient for assessing the project success comprehensively (Turner, 1993; Jugdev and Müller, 2005). To illustrate this point, according to Jugdev and Müller (2005), assessing project outcomes only with respect to time, cost and, quality is to consider only operational level project management as opposed to anything of strategic value. Jugdev and Müller (2005) focussed on evaluating project success based on the organizational aspects that are internal to the project, leaving out external ones as being too complicated. Nevertheless, there are researchers, such as Pinto and Mantel (1990), who tend to include both internal and external aspects of a project organization, as well as, complex criteria in assessing project success such as, stakeholder satisfaction, stakeholder community benefits, organization benefits, etc. (Pinto and Mantel, 1990; Atkinson, 1999; Wateridge, 1998). Pinto and Mantel (1990) proposed two additional success criteria, namely, ‘the quality of the project’ as it is perceived by the project team and ‘an external performance indicator’ of both project and its team performance (e.g. client satisfaction) in addition to the ‘efficiency of implementation phase’ criterion that assesses the project success in relation to internal performance indicators, and the Iron Triangle.

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Similarly, in a subsequent study, Andersen and Jessen (2000), who attempt to assess project success with respect to the task- and people-oriented aspects, defined project success criteria further into 10 elements. These elements, besides the traditional Iron Triangle components of time, budget, and quality, include the degree of importance of the products to the base organization, the results as perceived by all stakeholders, the learning experience, motivation for future work, knowledge acquisition, the final report preparation method, and the way of project termination (Andersen & Jessen, 2000). Andersen and Jessen (2000) thus provided a more holistic picture for assessing the success of a project.

Lim and Mohamed (1999), on the other hand, in their study attempted to justify this diversity in perception of project success criteria. They concluded different stakeholders’ perspectives on project success criteria, such as those of the project manager, the project team, the client, and the general public, as being the reason for different perspectives on project success criteria. In addition, Lim & Mohamed (1999) note success criteria as one of two constituents of the project success. The other constituent of the project success are Critical Success Factors (CSFs), which will be reviewed in the following section.

2.4 Critical Success Factors:

It was Daniel in 1961 (as cited in Amberg et al, 2005), who first coined the term ‘success factors’ in management literature. In his study, he came up with a set of industry-related CSFs that are claimed to be relevant for any company in a particular industry. Anthony, on the other hand, in 1972 (cited in Amberg et al, 2005), discussed the need for adaptation of CSFs to a company’s and its managers’ specific strategic objectives. Then, based on the both perspectives by Daniel (1961, cited in Amberg et al, 2005) and Anthony et al. (1972, cited in Amberg et al, 2005), Rockart (1979, cited in Amberg et al, 2005) conducted a study that involved three organizations. He found out that organizations despite operating in the same industry may have different CSFs due to differences in geographic locations, strategies etc. Then on, studies on identifying CSFs for different industry projects proliferated in the project management literature.

According to Cooke-Davis (2002) researchers have been trying to find out those factors that are critical to project success since the late 1960s. Therefore, the review of literature on CSFs reveals several definitions. The following CSF definition by Rockart (1979, cited in Amberg et al, 2005) is one of the most cited: “…the limited number of areas in which results, if they are satisfactory, will ensure successful competitive performance for the organization”.

In subsequent studies CSFs are defined as: ‘… characteristics, conditions or variables that, when properly sustained, maintained, or managed, can have a significant impact on the success of a firm competing in particular industry’ by Bruno and Leidecker (1984, p. 24).

Whereas, as ‘factors which, if addressed, significantly improve project implementation chances’ by Pinto and Slevin in 1987 (p.22). Lim and Mohamed (1999, p. 243) define critical success factors (CSFs) as ‘the set of circumstances, facts, or influences which contribute to the project outcomes’.

2.5 Critical Success Factors and the Projects:

During the 1970s-1980s, critical success factor requirements had been addressed rather as a response to the indicators of project success at the implementation phase, focussing on time, cost, and quality, as well as, stakeholder satisfaction (Jugdev and Müller, 2005). It was Pinto and Slevin (1987), who first attempted to develop a comprehensive set of CSFs related to project implementation success. In their work, they propose a project implementation profile (PIP) model, which consists of 10 CSFs, namely, project mission, top management support, project schedule/plan, client consultation, personnel, communication, technical tasks, client acceptance, monitoring and feedback, troubleshooting, determining project success. Additionally, the PIP model of 10 CSF’s, is claimed to be suitable as an instrument for project managers to measure those factors (Pinto and Slevin, 1987).

Later, Pinto and Prescott (1988), take a further step by determining the relative importance of 10 CSFs over the life of a project and discover that the relative importance of several CSFs vary at different phases of the project life cycle. The generalized 10 CSFs of the project implementation process (PIP) have also been employed as a model for many project types in several studies (Pinto and Prescott, 1988, Finch 2003, and Hyvari, 2006). However, the factors identified by Pinto and Slevin are not likely to cover every aspect involved in project management. Finch (2003) indicates that the PIP model does not take into consideration a number of significant external factors that affect the success of a project, such as, competence of the project manager, political activities within the organization, external organizational and environmental factors, and responsiveness to the perceived need of project implementation. Nevertheless, subsequent research, conducted during the 1990s-2000s, incorporate the stakeholder issue, as well as, interactions between internal and receiving organizations as factors that are critical for a project success (Jugdev and Müller, 2005).

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Moreover, in pursuit of providing a comprehensive CSF framework, there have also been attempts that integrate CSFs categorizations and frameworks with project success criteria. Belassi and Tukel in their study conducted in 1996, criticize previous studies, whose critical success factors are mainly focused on the project manager and project organization. They incorporate characteristics of the project and team members, as well as external factors, into their framework. Their framework, thus, provides a classification of project CSFs into four groups; namely, project manager, team members, organization, and external environment. Additionally, the framework by Belassi and Tukel (1996) provides an explicit and systematic way for examining the intra-relationships between factors in different groups. This scheme provides grouping of project success factors, however it is generic rather than industry specific. Another interesting study is by Cooke-Davies (2002, p.185), in which he introduces a set of questions for the purpose of grouping of CSFs, such as; “What factors are critical to project management success?”; “What factors are critical to success of an individual project?”; and “What factors lead to consistently successful projects?”

Moreover, he distinguishes between project management success and project success by claiming that project management success is the satisfaction of traditional criteria of time, cost and quality, whereas, project success is the satisfaction of the overall project objectives. Then, he proposes 12 CSFs, which he extracts from multi-national organizations’ activities and practical actions. Additionally, although his proposed CSFs are not directly related to human factors, he points out that people have intrinsic importance to all project processes.

On the other hand, CSFs introduced by Clarke (1999) involve effective communication, clear project’s objectives and scope, decomposing project into manageable size, using project plans as working documents, whereas, Nicholas (2004) proposes a set of CSFs, which are grouped into three categories: project participants, communication and information sharing and exchange, and the project management/systems development process. Based on an analysis of the literature it can be concluded that there is not a consistent CSF framework. Rather there are different perspectives of what constitute CSFs, depending on how the authors identify and classify them. Moreover, although early literature on project management does not consider project success criteria, containing the focus to CSFs, subsequent studies attempt to close the gap between CSFs and project success criteria, both of which impact on project success. In addition to this, recently developed CSFs are more complex than those of the previous decade as more recent CSFs cover both hard and soft aspects of project management such as the competence of the project manager and the project team members and leadership. The challenge to determine relevant CSFs over the full life of a project has been attracting growing interest in recent publications.

2.6 Critical Success Factors and the Project Life Cycle:

According to Mintzberg (Mintzberg et al, 1998) many academicians, especially in the strategy development field have stated the necessity for better project implementation. Nevertheless, Walker and Rowlinson (2008) argue that mainstream literature in the project management and strategy field fails to address these issues because it views implementation: “As a lesser form of intellectual pursuit than strategy and planning” (Walker and Rowlinson, 2008, p.32). Furthermore, Belassi and Tukel (1996) contribute to this issue by claiming that when it comes to project implementation issues, project management literature focuses more on improving tools and techniques such as scheduling, or project failure, rather than on success. However, such position is understandable, as to identify the success factors of a project is a more complex task than identifying failure factors, mainly because of the following reasons.

First, parties involved in a project tend to see project success differently and therefore, each party may allocate different success criteria to each phase (Pinto and Slevin, 1987; Pinto and Prescott 1988; Baker et al 1983; Belout and Gauvreau, 2004; Fowler and Walsh, 1999). Several academicians have proposed models in attempts to capture the processes which a project undergoes during its life. Adams and Barndt (1998), King and Cleland (1983) and Westland (2006) support the model which consists of the following four stages: initiation/conceptualisation, planning, execution / implementation and closure / termination. Pinto and Prescott (1988) propose empirically derived CSFs for each of the phases over the project life-cycle and CSFs proposed for implementation phase are ‘mission’, ‘trouble-shooting’, ‘schedule/plan’, ‘technical tasks’, and ‘client consultation’. Their work was later criticized unsuccessfully by some authors, including Belout (1998) and Belout and Gauvreau (2004), whose results were found to support those of Pinto and Prescott (1988). Third, Belassi and Tukel (1996), Clarke (1999) and King (1996) argue that the CSFs may not directly affect the project outcome. It is the combination of these factors at different project life-cycle stages that influences the success of the project. They also add that due to uniqueness of a project, some CSFs may be missing or become irrelevant for some projects and therefore covering as many factors as possible that could influence the project would be of little or no help to project manager. Moreover, Adams and Brandt (1988) remind us that projects are not static entities; rather they change significantly as they progress through their life-cycle stages. Finally, as Belout and Gauvreau (2004), Bellasi and Tukel (1998), Fryer, Antony and Douglas (2007) argue that the relevance of the CSFs vary across different industries. For example, Belout and Gauvreau (2004) found that in the IT industry, with the exception of client acceptance, all other factors proposed by Pinto and Prescott (1988) are critical to success. In construction and engineering industries, on the other hand, client acceptance is critical.

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2.7 Non Profit Projects:

According to Ba Khang & Lin Moe (2008), Non Profit Projects plays a significant role in the socio economic development process of both developed and developing countries. In business literature, indicators of success of the business organization are typically assessed against the profit it gains. But what makes NGOs become effective and efficient, as their work is not driven by the profit motive? It is widely accepted that the non-profit sector has not yet developed its own theoretical framework of management, because of the fact that they do not possess a ‘bottom line’ against which to measure success; organizational standards of performance simply do not exist. Contrary to the corporate sector, NGOs often promote vague and non-quantifiable objectives such as improving human rights, protecting the environment, or advocating democracy. To be more specific, the primary objective of non-profit organizations is to change the quality aspects of the human life or transform societies, thus making assessment of effectiveness extremely difficult. As Fowler (1997, p172¼‰points out, “Establishing performance criteria for non-profits and then using them for comparative purposes is a conceptual and practical headache.” NGO capacity-building is tied up with indicators of organizational effectiveness or project success (Eade, 1997¼‰. In other words, capacity of an NGO should be constructed against indicators the NGO lacks or is weak in. Since NGOs greatly vary within themselves and within different development contexts, as stated above there is no formal consensus on ‘standardized’ determinants of organizational effectiveness or project success, particularly of NGO development activities with grassroots people. Therefore, assessing the NGO capacity or project performance should be done based on the particular context of individual NGOs and their project activities¼ˆKanter, 1979; Drucker, 1993)

2.8 Characteristics of Non Profit Projects compared to For- Profit Projects:

Non profit projects have distinctive characteristics compared to the For-profit projects and Youker (1999) states the differences between International development projects; one of the important types of non-profit projects and the other for-profit projects. First of all, compared to ‘hard’ type industrial and infrastructure projects, Development projects as soft type projects with their less tangible social objectives and deliverables pose a special challenge in managing and evaluating of Development projects (Do and Tun, 2008). In addition to their less tangible objectives and deliverables, the complex web of the many stakeholders is an IDP characteristic that results in another management challenge (Youker, 1999). To illustrate, compared with industrial and commercial projects, which involve the client, who pays for and receives the deliverables of the project, and the contractor, who manages and obtains the desired result (Do and Tun, 2008). Development projects involve a web of stakeholders, including the coordinator as the head of the project management unit; the task manager as the supervisor of the project implementation in the multilateral development agency; the national supervisor, to whom the coordinator reports; the project team; the steering committee as an interface with the local institutional system; the beneficiaries as those actually benefit from the project outputs without paying for it; the population at large. In addition, ensuring accountability of the project manager is more troublesome within this complex web of stakeholders (Diallo and Thuillier, 2004) as opposed to traditional projects.

Youker (1999) based on his study of evaluations of World Bank IDP post- project reports, outlines a number of IDP management challenges in addition to the above mentioned. He states that ‘the lack of shared perception and agreement on the objectives of the projects by staff and stakeholders’, as well as, ‘the lack of commitment by the team, management and stakeholders’ as the problems that had been most persistent during implementing Development projects. Also, Youker (1999) counts ‘the lack of detailed, realistic, and current project plans’, ‘unclear lines of authority and responsibility’, ‘the lack of adequate resources’, ‘poor feedback and control mechanisms for early detection of problems’, ‘poor or no analysis of major risk factors’, ‘delays caused by bureaucratic administration systems’ as other challenges that had occurred frequently during IDP implementations in past.

2.8 Conceptualising Critical Success Factors for Non-Profit Projects:

Eventhough, identifying critical success factors is one of the most popular topics among researchers and practitioners; there are very few research conducted on Non-profit projects. One of the studies that identified in the literatures was the research conducted by Do & Tun (2008). Do and Tun (2008) studied on critical success factors of International Development Projects (IDP), a kind of non profit projects followed by Diallo and Thuiller (2004; 2005) have developed a framework based on an adaptation of the Logical Framework Approach (LFA), which is a general methodology commonly used by the development community to design, plan, manage and communicate their projects, for IDP context. Their proposed framework focuses on project life cycle, and then assesses the success of each phase based on the outputs produced by the previous phase. As a consequence, these partial successes are integrated into an assessment of the overall success of the IDP according to the Life-Cycle-Based framework.

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