FAQ: What Are Successful Criteria for Project Management?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 20, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The success of a project is determined by whether it achieves established goals and performance criteria. In project management establishing success criteria for evaluating projects is a critical task. If you manage projects or are looking to do so in your work, learning how to define and measure criteria for a successful project can help you uphold high standards for quality and track your performance. In this article, we define success criteria for projects in the workplace, answer common questions about establishing and recording them, and provide examples of project success criteria to help you when establishing your own.

What are the success criteria for project management?

Successful criteria for project management are benchmarks for determining whether the work meets expectations and fits the needs of the end user. The quality and quantity of a product you're producing, the level of efficiency of individuals on a team, and other required components of a project can all be determined by the established success criteria.

Success criteria may define standards for what goals to reach on a project and ensure that those standards align with client satisfaction for them to be successful. It's critical to develop and assess these criteria to ensure that you and the team get the best results possible.

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How to develop success criteria for a new project

Establishing the criteria to evaluate in order to determine whether a completed project meets expectations is one of the first tasks when starting a new project. Although successful criteria change from project to project, there are a few essential factors to consider and steps to take when developing criteria for a new assignment:

1. Meet with clients and stakeholders

Begin by meeting with customers, clients, and stakeholders to understand more about their project requirements. You can also talk to the project's end users to find out what success means to them. This can inform you about their customer satisfaction requirements and their preferred schedule for finishing the project. Learning this information can provide a general framework for defining your project's scope and success criteria.

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2. Gather feedback from team members

Establish standards for internal procedures, efficiency, and team satisfaction in collaboration with the team members and other employees at the company. While interactions with customers can help you define quality requirements for your deliverables, interactions with colleagues will assist you in developing success criteria for your internal processes, guidelines, and procedures while you work and manage a project. This optimizes your processes, establishes best practices, and can streamline team operations for future projects.

Related: What Is Project Planning? (With Benefits and Parts)

3. Conduct competitor research

By analyzing your competition, you can establish criteria for the quality of your deliverables and assess whether the features you're delivering in your project are in line with industry norms. Investigating what similar businesses in your sector provide to clients can provide further insight into what clients and stakeholders are looking for beyond what they express during your initial interactions. Consider various aspects of their products, such as price range, quality level, turnaround time, and response rate, and develop your own success criteria to compete with other organizations in your field.

4. Consider the time restrictions

Schedules and deadlines are critical success factors. Specify the time restrictions for each project and its deliverables. Focus on any dependent tasks contained within an assignment, such as deliverables needed by one department before they can begin working on another portion of the client's project. Create a precise timeline and emphasize how each deadline contributes to completing the project's success criteria.

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5. Assess your resources

Another typical measure of success is the capacity to execute a project within the constraints of your available resources. When establishing your project's requirements, take into account the available resources, such as labour hours and money, for each component of the project. Consider establishing a maximum budget as part of your success criteria, followed by additional criteria for further degrees of success. For instance, finishing a project by spending 100% of the budget may be acceptable, but spending just 90% of the budget may earn a high-performance standard.

Related: What Is Resource Management and Why Is It Important?

6. Keep track of and post expectations

After assembling the required information and determining the project's success criteria, document these expectations and post them in a location known and accessible to all project participants. Maintaining a record of your success criteria ensures accountability and enables everyone to compare their behaviour and outcomes to the criteria throughout the project. Remind the group of these criteria throughout team meetings and reviews, emphasizing specific parts and definitions as necessary.

Why are project success criteria important?

Establishing success criteria for a project is critical because it enables you to manage the production process and determine the project's outcomes. This promotes efficiency and increases the likelihood of client satisfaction. Having success criteria for a project holds everyone on the team accountable, fostering equality and collaboration. Outside the team, establishing and meeting success criteria for a project can contribute to building a positive reputation for the company. It improves the quality of products and services, ensuring that clients receive deliverables that suit their demands. Having consistent success criteria also guarantees that your clients receive a consistent quality of service each time they work with your team.

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Documenting success on a project

As you complete the work on a project, keep track of employee actions and project task submissions to demonstrate the team's progress toward meeting your established success criteria. Some methods for documenting success include the following:

  • Record progress in a spreadsheet each time you complete a deliverable or meet one of your key criteria goals.

  • Use project management dashboards with specific features that allow you to track and document your project goals as you achieve them.

  • Write out employee and project evaluations to determine who contributes to which success criteria.

  • Save client feedback from each project to learn about quality and customer satisfaction metrics.

How do you evaluate project success?

At the end of a project, you evaluate your success by comparing your outcomes to your initial success criteria. Make a list of each criterion, then determine the extent to which you achieved those goals. Find a measurable way to evaluate each type of criterion. This may be easier for some types than others. For example, budget and schedule have clear and direct cut-off points to determine if you met the criteria. Customer satisfaction is more qualitative, so consider using a survey or another measurement tool to quantify your data.

Read more: How to Measure the Success of a Project (With Skills)

Examples of project success criteria

Here are some examples of quantifiable aspects of a project that can be used as success criteria:

Cost

This component compares the overall cost of the project to the budget established by stakeholders at the start of the project. It evaluates a project manager's ability to properly manage the budget to achieve the objectives. While working on a project, managers can make sure that they're satisfying this criterion by regularly monitoring the costs of personnel, resources, and other expenses to ensure they remain within the budget constraints.

If any components of the project cost are higher than expected, project managers can document the additional costs to demonstrate to stakeholders that they managed the budget properly.

Timeline

Another critical component in the success of many projects is the timeframe or duration of the required work. Typically, project managers and other stakeholders agree on an acceptable timeframe during the project's inaugural meeting. If a project team meets the deadline for deliverables, stakeholders will likely consider the project successful. The timeline is critical because it can affect a variety of other success criteria, including the project's total budget and resource availability.

Scope

The scope of a project describes the goals, objectives, and deliverables. In most cases, the project manager collaborates with other stakeholders to define the project's needs and scope. Typically, stakeholders review the project's outcomes at the conclusion to decide whether they met the project's scope. If so, the project can be deemed successful, as the project manager effectively led the team to desired results that met or exceeded the project's criteria. Meeting the scope criterion for success indicates that the team satisfied the project's objectives.

Resource capacity

It's critical to organize resources appropriately during a project to ensure that the project team has the necessary work hours and supplies to complete the task. This success factor evaluates how well a project manager is able to distribute resources in order to keep the team focused on the project objectives. To meet this aspect of the success criteria, a project manager may need to adjust staffing capacity to ensure that a project team has the necessary individuals to complete the project. It can also involve monitoring the materials and supplies that a team may require to complete their work.

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