Answering the question, "How do you measure IT project success?" shouldn't be that difficult, right? However, I think most of us would agree that pushing projects to completion on time and under budget should NOT be the only measure of whether or not a project is successful. Most seasoned project leaders will agree that any project, to be truly successful, must provide the business value it was intended to produce. Let me share a couple of other suggestions regarding what I believe projects need to be considered successful:
Success is about doing the right projects, not just doing them right. Delivering business value and satisfying customer needs is critical—and starts with the evaluation of which potential projects will meet those needs and provide that value. Hopefully, this has always been the case, but organizations are realizing that they have to do more than give lip service to meeting customer expectations and organizational goals. It must become a primary measurement of how we determine the success or failure of any IT project.
Project teams need to completely understand how "quality" is defined and how to build it into every project. Although everyone would agree that "quality" is very subjective, if everyone on the team doesn't have a thorough understanding of the cost of defects and rework, it doesn't matter what work management tool you use, it won't help. Edward Deming used to talk about how organizations must build quality into the product, it can't really be inspected in. Quality assurance needs to be a part of every process from start to finish. Smart organizations are looking at defects and their root causes through the project-life-cycle to develop methodologies that improve the quality of their final deliverables.
The final product needs to be stable, compatible, and easily maintainable. It's just too expensive for organizations to maintain software that's unreliable or incompatible with current systems. With staff and maintenance budgets at a premium, software that isn't will be abandoned for something that is.
The way organizations measure the success of project-based work is changing. Managers who leverage project management tools to meet the new objectives are able to better address business needs and ultimately increase their value within their organizations.