For any project-based business, measuring the success of a project is essential as it gives an opportunity to assess the strengths, flaws, and potential areas of improvement. Accurately measuring success helps in an effective execution of current and future projects - a factor that is especially important to small and medium firms where each project can make-or-break the company.
While there are a lot of ways to measure a project’s success, the best measurement criteria to extract real success belong to two groups: Development-based and Deployment-based criteria.
This refers to factors that arise during the development phase of the project. Most of these criteria are common to all projects.
Most real-world projects hinge on tight schedules. Evaluating whether milestones were reached on time and whether testing & delivery were all performed within the initially determined time-frame plays a big role in determining the success of a project. Any delays should be studied closely so as to avoid them in the future.
Studying whether development was completed within the estimated budget is often the most important measure of success for many projects. Overshooting the budget may jeopardize a firm’s reputation, and worse - may require the development firm itself to compensate.
No amount of punctuality and cost-effective development can compensate for a badly built product. The reliability, effectiveness, intuitiveness, and lack of bugs are all contributing factors in determining overall quality of the product.
4. Team Satisfaction
Often overlooked, team satisfaction is a significant determinant of a project’s success. As the people who are personally involved in developing the core product, team members often have a better understanding of the project than the stakeholders themselves. Team satisfaction boosts team morale and results in better development and skilled developer retention.
Deployment-based criteria refers to factors that contribute to the success of a project *after* development has been completed and the product has been released. The relevance of these criteria may change depending on the nature of development and development firm.
1. Marketing Success
A great product requires necessary recognition among customers. This not only ensures sales but also opens up prospects for future development of the product. Even robustly built products can be considered failures if there aren’t enough customers aware of its existence/features (for example, Facebook Poke).
2. Adoption Rate
Going hand in hand with marketing success, if the rate of adoption of a product is low, it is very often deemed a financial/utilitarian failure regardless of how well-built it is (for example, Microsoft Zune).
3. Customer Satisfaction
For a product that succeeds in both marketing and adoption rate, not satisfying the end-user will still result in the tag of failure. Inability to meet customer expectations will affect customer-loyalty and retention rates, making future development prospects bleak (for example, Internet Explorer).
Beyond the criteria discussed above, firms should also experiment with complex criteria that combine some the aforementioned factors with firm-specific criteria if any. This will help in prioritizing important factors while appropriately localizing the overall measurement process.
At the end of the day, project success and company success go hand in hand - measuring the former is crucial towards steering the latter in the right direction.