Success is a perception
If arriving in Tucson on Tuesday is your objective, showing up at the city limits at 11:45 pm would be considered a success. What if the reason you needed to be in Tucson was for a conference that started at 10 am on Tuesday? Then arriving at 11:45 would be a failure.
Simply saying you didn’t commit to being there by 10 am would not change the fact that you missed the conference – and in the opinion of others, you failed.
The two keys to setting your projects outcomes, goals and objectives;
1. Get the Details, and
2. Publicize your Project Goals.
Get the details
Asking the right questions will help you create comprehensive project goals and outcomes.
- Why? Why are we doing this project? Why is it important? Why is it
important to the individual stakeholders?
- What? What problem is this project expected to solve? What criteria will be used to measure success or failure? What deliverables are expected from this project? What does success look like?
- Who? Who has an investment in the outcome of the project? Who will determine the success of the project?
Let’s look at the terms Goals, Outcomes and Objectives.
- Goals are broad – describing success in general terms.
- Outcomes are more specific – describing the goal in measurable terms.
- Objectives are the measurements of success – describing the precise measurement expected.
“Improve customer service.”
“Decrease the number of customer complaints.”
“A 15% decrease in customer complaints regarding product delivery.”
Publicize your Project Goals
Defining success is the first step, next you must publicize and broadcast these goals and objectives to your project stakeholders.
During the project it is likely that your stakeholders will change their perception of success. They may want to add or change the initial goals and objectives.
To help manage the inevitable changes, you will need to make your objectives well known – this is more than just publishing them in a document. Put them on your status reports. Share them repeated in stakeholder meetings. Your team and stakeholders will grow tired of hearing them. They will say; “ya, ya, we know”. But that’s okay.
Each time you review the terms of success you open the door for your stakeholder’s to share their new definition of success. Don’t ignore these comments. Nail them down. It is important to clearly define and agree on what is being accomplished and what success looks like for your project. You may need to subsequent phase to your project, you may need a change order, you may not be able to achieve what they want — it is important to capture this information and articulate that to your stakeholders.
Remember, the project plan defines success and if you missed a critical piece, like that a critical conference is at 10 am in Tucson, arriving on Tuesday at 11:45 pm is not success.