Key Factors for Success in Running Successful Projects

Introduction

Business sponsors have declared your business project as one of the complete successes of their organization. It is reported by end-users that the productivity and quality of the project was a leap according to their previous experiences. The company’s status has acquired a heroic position due to the success of this project. The promised results are delivered by the company on time, and the budgeted cost is utilized efficiently. In response, a number of companies are confronting top-notch competition due to the success of the project. The abovementioned situation could be like science fiction or ambition of most of the project managers around the globe. (GBOGC, pp. 41-43, 2002)

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It is not easy to implement and acquire such success in the projects as it sounds like. However, it is not totally science fiction and can be achieved in an efficient manner. In this regard, it is very imperative that project success should be defined firstly, in order to understand the objective clearly. Some of the characteristics of a project that are considered mandatory for the successful status of the project are that a project is started and completed on time, expenditures are maintained according to the budgeted costs, and business practices and processes are implemented and enhanced in such a manner that the laymen can also handle the issue efficiently. (O’Connell, pp. 32-35, 2001)

In light of the abovementioned description of the project’s success, it is necessary and significant that factors of success should be critically discussed and analyzed, in order to acquire success in the projects. It is an observation that the performance of a project, as well as, its outcomes are influenced and affected by different factors that should not be avoided by the businesses, and especially, the project managers. In addition, various researches have indicated a couple of risk factors that should be specifically dealt with by the project managers and their teams. In this regard, the paper will try to discuss, analyze, and relate different key factors that are necessary and significant for the successful running of the projects in different businesses environments. (Graham, pp. 37-45, 2003)

People

People or employees are considered the major factor of acquiring success in a project. In this regard, it is very important that a specific project should be planned in such a manner that it should provide opportunities to the employees in terms of presenting their performance during the project in the organization. In this regard, project managers should consider the formation of an executive team at the beginning of the project. An executive team should include the most efficient members of the organization that can distribute and manage the work in a number of employees. It is the most crucial responsibility to manage the work, and therefore, a major responsibility of the success is credited to account of the executive team. On the other hand, members of the executive team are the first ones to confront the failure. Therefore, an executive team should be formed by the project managers in an effective manner, as it is considered the backbone of the project. (O’Connell, pp. 30-33, 2000)

Secondly, a project development team should be established by the executive team with the help of project managers. Such a team should include efficient members of the organization that are good at developing things, rather than making decisions. In this team, efficiency in terms of implementation of the designs is considered a significant requirement, which should be considered by the project managers and the executive team. In this age of information technology where every project is designed, implemented, and maintained with the support of technologies, it is very imperative that an IT team should be formed by the officials of the project. A number of studies have indicated that the absence of an IT team has resulted in the failure of various projects that were designed in such a manner that success was mandatory; however, they confronted failure due to the absence of an IT team. (GBOGC, pp. 73-75, 2002)

Thirdly, customers and suppliers are some of the important components of people factor in the success of a project. In this regard, a project should be customer-oriented and should be designed and planned according to the requirements of the customers or end-users, rather than the prerequisites of the organization. It would be a challenge to cater for the needs and interests of varied groups at the time of designing projects; however, important and necessary interests should be addressed by members of the project team, as the people will decide the failure or success of the project. (Tynan, pp. 33-36, 1999)

After the formation of different teams and groups, it is important that all the groups should have an effective platform of interaction with each other. It is very necessary that every group should be available to the other group at the time of its need. Sometimes, the issues are easy to handle; however, sometimes, it is observed that easy issues are handled by incompetent persons that result in the failure of the project. In this regard, every group should be informed of the responsibility, and therefore, members of each group should be available in their responsible areas. The emphasis is that organizations will not be having efficient people everywhere, but they will surely be having competent persons, and therefore, it is the responsibility of project managers, as well as, the executive team to make sure that the project is not compromising over the issue of competency. (Bitz, pp. 67-70, 1991)

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In other words, a group would be very competent and efficient; however, it may confront failure if the project is run in isolation. Humans are social animals, and therefore, even the most efficient person or group will require the support of other groups and their dependencies for the success of the project. Thus, isolation of a person or a group should be avoided at the time of running projects. However, interaction should not be taken in the negative sense, and interaction should only be meant for working purposes, rather than personal reasons.

In addition, it will not be possible for every member to be present every time during the project. In the alternative, responsibilities and working schedule of every team should be discussed with each other, which may help each member to support the other member, when required. The term ‘when required’ is very significant during the running of a project, as every team has different priorities, for instance, time would be the priority of a management team, and accuracy would be the priority of an IT team. In this regard, it should be noted that the teams should respect each other’s priorities, as non-seriousness towards this factor may create serious problems for the project team. Of course, priorities are not communicated formally in an organization, rather, lunchrooms and restrooms are chosen for such discussions. It should always be remembered that every team should respect each other’s ideas and practices, as this could be the major factor of acquiring success of the project. (Marasco, pp. 37-40, 2005)

One of the fundamental factors of acquiring success in the running of a project is a clear and detailed understanding of the business environment. Various studies have indicated that the project would require re-planning and redesigning if the requirement and practices of the business environment are not fully understood by the employees. This could be a little problem at the beginning; however, it could stick the project in the middle, if the organization is running a huge project. Therefore, all the members of the project team should be provided with details of the business environment, in order to avoid any chances of failure. (Graham, pp. 20-22, 2003)

User requirements are another factor in the people category that should be discussed and analyzed at the beginning of the project, as earlier mentioned in the paper that the project should be user-oriented than organization oriented. Such a factor is not a new one, and most of the project managers are aware of this factor from the beginning. However, it is important that this paper should not avoid its discussion. It is noted that sometimes efficient projects seem very difficult to the end-users, and therefore, requisites of the customers should be discussed in detail during the planning and designing of the project. A number of experts have considered this factor as one of the most critical factors for the success of the project. In this regard, interviews and workshops should be arranged by the project managers that can help the customers in a better understanding of the project. In addition, the workshops should be organized in business terms, as it may help the customers to be familiar with the terms of developers, and reduce the communication gap with them. (O’Connell, pp. 27-30, 2001)

A number of project managers are found making assumptions regarding the interests and requirements of the customers. The assumption is a very significant step that results in the failure of the project and should be avoided by the project team. Secondly, it is observed that secondary sources are often considered by the project managers for making decisions. For instance, a friend of a colleague was in an organization, had confronted a similar issue, and had dealt in a way, which is considered by the current project managers without performing the detailed analysis of that project. Such practices result in the failure of the project most of the time. In other words, guesses and assumptions should not be part of a project.

Data

Data is one of the most critical factors associated with the success of a project in the organization. Until now, the paper has discussed that a vital role is played by the people, employees, or teams for the success of the project, now the paper will discuss some of the perspectives associated with the importance of data in the running of a successful project. This category is a vague one, and therefore, not all the perspectives will be emphasized in this paper. Most of the studies have indicated that the failure of projects is greatly caused by the issues related to the data, and therefore, it is imperative that such factors should be analyzed in the paper. Once the requirements of the users are understood by the project teams, a source for acquiring data should be analyzed by the project managers. (Marasco, pp. 53-57, 2005)

It is very important that a valid and legitimate source should be identified by the team, and the validity and legitimacy should not be compromised over time. Often, organizations end up in secondary data sources due to a lack of time. In this situation, a later phase of development should be included with the finalizing of data sources. On the other hand, if the data source is required in the first stage, it should be taken an as high risk by the project managers, and identification of a suitable and compelling data source should be utilized during the project. Usually, it takes longer to acquire the required data and its sources than the expected one, and its update and maintenance taking a much longer period. However, the project managers should play a convincing role for the teams, in order to avoid any kind of intolerance during the project, as it may be the crucial point of failure of the project. (GBOGC, pp. 20-25, 2002)

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Design

After the analysis of user requirements and identification of data sources, another key factor associated with the success of the project is alignment and designing process according to the requisites of the customers. During the planning of the project, the designing process should be addressed by the project managers in a convincing manner, which should indicate its significance in front of the employees. Primarily, the designers should be aware of the fact that the data should not be considered at the time of designing the project, and the user requirements should be the consideration of the designers. A project should try to incorporate every requisite that is informed by the customers or acquired from the researches. It is noted that even the avoidance of a single requisite may result in the confrontation of a serious issue. On the other hand, data should be considered at the time of designing core strategies of the project, which may not be visible to the customers, and only the presentational layer of the project may reflect the information and environment according to the requirements of the users. (Graham, pp. 49-54, 2003)

Another critical factor related to the success of a project is the sizing and manageability of the designs and planning of the project requisites. Especially, the first-time implementation of the projects requires special sizing and management capabilities from the project managers, as a single mistake in the management part may perplex all the processes and fail the project. The management team should be formed by the project managers that will be responsible for any management related issues during the running of the project. Any complexity should be handled by the management team without interfering in the work of other teams, as it may affect the priorities and schedule of the teams. (Tynan, pp. 50-54, 1999)

Regarding the sizing, the project sponsor should be informed of the size of the project, which could be beneficial for him for the analysis of budgeted costs of the project. In other words, a finance team should be formed by the project manager or the executive team that should prepare a report for the project managers, as well as, the project sponsors related to the limitations of the project and required costs. For instance, the design of the project is very efficient, all the teams are working and interacting effectively with each other; however, lack of financial resources may result in the failure of the project. Therefore, it is very important that the financial aspect of the project should not be avoided by the project managers, which could be critical for the organization. (Whitten, pp. 23-27, 2004)

Project Management

In the previous sections of the paper, we have briefly touched on the factor of project management in terms of the formation of the management team. Now the paper will discuss and analyze another crucial factor related to the running of successful projects in the organization. in this regard, project management is one of the critical factors that should be considered by the project managers during a project. A number of studies reported that failure was confronted by a number of project managers, as the project was not properly managed by the team. In specific, time management was the major issue that was not handled properly by the managers. In this case, it is mandatory that a proper working schedule should be planned and arranged at the beginning of the project, which should be according to the tentative expectations of the experienced persons of the organization. (Marasco, pp. 88-90, 2005)

Moreover, the project should be planned with tentative dates, rather than the fixed ones. It is noted that fixed deadlines at the time of planning end up in extensions, which affects other phases of the project too. Therefore, experts have considered time management should be a mandatory concern for the project managers, in order to acquire a success level in the project. A number of experts have criticized and argued over the fixed deadline of the project, as it should be removed, which will eliminate all the remaining obstacles related to time management. However, such argument has been surpassed by one of the foremost and crucial factors of the project’s success, which is the consideration of user requirements, as most of the customers require the delivery of the project at a fixed deadline, which should be abiding by the project managers. (O’Connell, pp. 49-53, 2000)

Another major factor in the category of project management is the identification and management of the risks associated with the project. In the previous years, the abovementioned factor has not been given due importance by the project organizations; however, detailed research in this field has resulted in the provision of importance to this factor. In reality, a planning process is deemed effective, if the section of risk management is included in it. In this regard, the beginning of a project’s planning should incorporate the analysis of potential risks that may cause failure during the running of the project. (O’Connell, pp. 59-63, 2001)

In addition, it is noted that a project is operated more comfortably by the team workers if the potential issues can be handled by them effectively, or even they are trained for handling such issues. In this regard, the process of identifying risks should be encouraged by the project managers, and any causes of failures should be eliminated at the beginning of the project planning. At this point, organizational culture and environment play an influential role, as it may convince or limit the team members to express their concerns or feelings related to the project. Therefore, it should be noted by the project managers that a positive working environment is provided to the employees that may facilitate the project team members to come up with one of the successful projects of the organization. (Whitten, pp. 77-80, 2004)

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Conclusion

Conclusively, the paper has described, discussed, and analyzed a number of key factors that are associated with the success of any project in different organizations. The paper has given due importance to the factor related to the people, which should not be overlooked by the project managers. In addition, data sourcing, designing, planning, and time and risk management are some of the crucial factors that are considered for the running of successful projects in the organizations. A balancing act of all the above-discussed factors will surely result in the success of the project. It is hoped that the paper will be beneficial for the students, teachers, experts, and nonprofessionals in the better understanding of the significant factors of success of the project.

References

David Tynan. (1999). Successful Projects. DGT Consulting.

Fergus O’Connell. (2000). How to Run Successful Projects in Web Time. Artech House.

Fergus O’Connell. (2001). How to Run Successful Projects III. Addison Wesley.

Great Britain Office of Government Commerce (GBOGC). (2002). Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2. The Stationary Office.

Ira Bitz. (1991). Project Management. Routledge (UK).

Joe Marasco. (2005). the Software Development Edge: Essays on Managing Successful Projects. Addison Wesley.

Neal Whitten. (2004). Neal Whitten’s No-Nonsense Advice for Successful Projects. Management Concepts.

Robert J. Graham. (2003). Creating an Environment for Successful Projects. John Wiley & Sons.

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