Daptiv’s David Blumhorst Turns Definition of Project Success on Its Head

Project success has nothing to do with time, budget or scope according to David Blumhorst the Vice President of Solutions and Services for Daptiv. David recently sat down with Cornelius Fichtner on the PM Podcast to explain how these three constraints, traditionally thought of as solid measures for success, are actually better suited to gauge performance. Projects are investments and their primary purpose is to drive change; therefore, even if time, budget and scope are met but the desired change does not occur how can the project be considered effective? Instead, David recommends PPM professionals define the business objective they’re trying to achieve with the project and then assess its success in accomplishing this goal. 

David suggests PPM professionals determining their business objective ask themselves: What is the primary reason for investing in this project? Does it align with the purpose of the business or is it an unnecessary expense? With this business target in place, instead of measuring tasks which allocate valuable technical skills to monitoring, PPM professionals can optimize those same resources and lead their team to a project bulls-eye.

Once PPM Professionals have redefined project success, David recommends avoiding these top four common pitfalls:

  • A lack of business goals – Without a goal scope creep can become endless, pulling a project away from its target and towards a pricy budget and lengthy timeline.
  • Starting a project not aligned with business objectives – Determining upfront if a project is a good investment or a waste of limited resources is crucial.
  • Failing to plan ahead for ROI – Measuring a project’s return on investment requires forethought. Once a project is finished, it is difficult to determine this measurement if there was never an initial baseline established for comparison.
  • Excessive spending – Breaking the bank can be a product of the scope creep which can occur when the project is not aligned with a specific business objective.

David also encourages project managers to think outside the box to avoid locking themselves into rigid structures that don’t serve the project. To stay on track, here are his top four tips:

  • Have an elevator speech – Every project should be accompanied by a 30-second elevator speech that describes its purpose and reasoning in just a few sentences. This makes it simple to regularly revisit the business objective to quickly determine if the project truly aligns with the overall goals of the organization.
  • Consider other measurements in addition to ROI– Factors such as employee and customer satisfaction should be taken into consideration, as ROI is often not the only indicator of success.
  • View projects like you do investments – Look at multiple projects as investments in a portfolio, create rating systems, and determine the return on the portfolio as a whole.
  • Complete a success survey after each project – Survey stakeholders and shareholders to determine if the desired outcomes from the project were achieved from their diverse perspectives.

For more information on defining project success, you can listen to the entire PM Podcast online. Daptiv would like hear how you determine if your project has been a success. What types of metrics have you used to determine ROI? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section below, or reach out to us on Twitter at @Daptiv.