Factors Affecting Project Success
Assembling, documenting, and applying those successful project management lessons learned is not enough, in itself, to ensure project success. A study of the background of the lessons learned shows that the root causes for problems or failures of a project can seldom be explained by technological issues. In fact, the review of the technical and management literature and of the summary of results prepared from many management assessments and quality assurance assessments for the commercial utility industry shows that
the major cause of project failures is usually sociological.
The sociological issues include: dysfunctional organizational cultures, destructive politics, unqualified/inadequate staffing, lack of personnel motivation, high personnel turnover, poor vertical and horizontal communications, inappropriate or inadequate organizational structures, inadequate training, inexperienced management, and poor public relations.
These sociological issues are the root cause of the poor project/business management processes responsible for most project problems.
For example, owners, due to inexperience, have failed to implement strong project management at the beginning of the project and prior to placement of any key contract. The sociological issues are then reflected in business and project management problems in the acquisition, design, procurement, development, construction, test, and operation of a facility. The business and management problems within the project then result in:
• Incomplete project objectives and acquisition strategies
• Ineffective project management and lack of integrated planning and
• Ineffective communication and integration of project activities
• Inappropriate contracting methods and poor contract administration
• Lack of design control and inadequate configuration management and
• Untimely, incomplete, and inadequate procedures and lack of procedural
Poor control of documents and information and inadequate records management
• Non-certifiable quality assurance program or non-verifiable quality assurance
Therefore, projects that succeed generally do not do so because they use, or fail to use, any particular advanced technology.
Their success can be explained by their use of more effective ways of:
• Developing a complete acquisition strategy
• Planning the work and contracting the tasks
• Completing designs prior to construction
• Using and controlling information
• Managing the project
• Utilizing organizational development processes, such as team building, management of change, and positive reinforcement, to focus the diverse project talent on project objectives
• Modifying the work place and organizational culture in response to changing project needs
• Administering the contracts
• Establishing public and institutional interactions.
In addition, whether a project will succeed, fail, or have major problems is usually determined early in the life of the project. Consequently, it is particularly important in the initial phase of the project to focus on those management factors that lead to project success.