If you run a project-based business like mine, you know that there are any number of things that can get between you and the successful end of the project: budget, bureaucracy, poor team dynamics, just to name a few.
The most damaging of them all?
Not knowing when you've actually finished a project successfully.
What defines "success?" Is it when a client signs off on the project? Or when you complete the scope of work?
All too often teams start projects without any success criteria. Or they start with the wrong set of criteria. I've been writing a series of posts about productivity based on a conversation with Tony Wong, a project management blackbelt and founder of The Point Man System. For this latest installment, Wong points out that every person, from the project manager to the CEO, has a different idea of what success means—and often that's why teams don't get projects done efficiently.
Here are his six factors for measuring the success of a project:
1. Schedule. Is there a hard deadline, or does the schedule relate to something else (budget, product launch date, etc.)? In the end, did you complete the project by the time it was due? Sometimes clients come to us with a hard deadline, other times they’re simply looking for the final product. Either way, my team always has a schedule we need to meet.
2. Scope. What do you need to get done within the timeframe? Tony refers to scope as the “stars that align to bring the client, the team, and you together.” It may be a list of features or just an idea, but the scope should essentially be the driving force of the project.
3. Budget. This is often the most important factor for many projects. In the end, did you stick to the budget? Did you come in way under budget? Your team should always know where they stand in terms of money spent. We regularly give clients a quote before they start and once we do so, we need to stick to it, or come in under. Otherwise we’re not a profitable business.
4. Team satisfaction. This is one that often goes overlooked in project management. “We often take our team for granted like a loyal friend, assuming that they’ll always be there when we need them,” Wong says. My philosophy is, I dont ask my team to do anything I wouldn’t do. They need to have a life outside of work (although I know they all love coming into the Ciplex office everyday!), and work shouldn't feel only like an obligation. Keeping the team happy means if I do need them to work a late night here and there, they won't do it begrudgingly.
5. Customer satisfaction. Your clients might not be able to articulate exactly what they want, so often it’s your job to figure out what they’re looking for in order to make sure they’re happy with the end product. How do you track client satisfaction? Ask them to rate it on a scale of 1 to 10 every week or so, and analyze and review your findings. If my team builds a website the client loves, but the client wasn’t happy with the process, we failed. You can avoid this situation by seeking constant feedback.
6. Quality of work. The quality of one project often affects another, so it's important to always track quality and make adjustments to future projects accordingly. Remember, recommendations are like free advertising. If you deliver a strong product, your client will tell people about it, and that's where your next project should come from.