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This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Defining Project Success, but for Whom? -- Dale Emery, a recent addition to my blogroll of regularly read resources, defines project success...
- it delights its customers,

- it enhances the team's ability to work together in the future, and

- it creates value and meaning for its individual members.
But he has some hesitation...
"My definition tells you that I care about the people the project was intended to serve, I care about the individual project team members, and I care about the team as a team.

"Who does my definition leave out? It isn't clear to me where sponsors (or investors) fit in. Are they customers? Are they project team members? I want them to be satisfied, too. What about other stakeholders? What about members of the community in which the project takes place?

"I care about those people, too. I feel anxious when I leave out people I care about."
To me, it's pretty clear that sponsors fit into both categories of customer and team. Either they are stand-ins for the customer, or the project is actually being done so that they can serve their customers in a situation where those more easily identified as the builders of the solution are one or two steps removed from real customers. Sponsors are team members by stint of their responsibility to set goals and objectives of the effort, and to justify its existence as an effective use of the larger organization's resources.

Investors are a special class of customer that benefits from successfully serving what is more traditionally viewed as customers. They are not really customers of a specific project, but of the entire organization/project and its goal-seeking (profits in a for-profit situation) abilities.

Most other stakeholders fall into the customer camp, to the extent that side effects of the project effort must not be allowed to negatively impact their interests.

Another way of looking at the various players involved in projects is through the lens of what the Theory of Constraints body of knowledge refers to as necessary conditions, of which three are the absolute minimum to assure success in terms of sustainability or growth in the ability of a system to achieve more "goal stuff." These necessary conditions, introduced in Goldratt's book, It's Not Luck, are usually stated...

Make money now and in the future. (Financial viability serving investors and owners, as well as the long term ability to address the other two conditions -- all three are "necessary" to enable the others.)

Satisfy customers now and in the future. (Not only paying customers, but also those in the surrounding community that are impacted by the enterprise.)

Provide security and satisfaction for employees/associates, now and in the future. (In addition to a firms own employees, this one also implies caring for the relationship with other organizations critical to one's supply chain as well.)

Note the common "now and in the future" thread. As necessary conditions of sustainability or growth, these insist that the system cannot be allowed to pay for current success by squandering the future, and vice versa.

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