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Exploring project success

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to study the relationship between project success factors and actual project success. It reports on an investigation into those factors within the direct influence of project managers that can make a real difference to the outcome of project endeavours. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Using principal components analysis (PCA) on 60 questions about actual project work performance collected from four culturally different regions (UK, France, Norway and China), nine distinctively different critical success factors were found. Similarly, using PCA on ten project success items, three distinctively different project success criteria were extracted. Findings ‐ The most important factors in improving managerial ability to deliver results in time and at cost were strong project commitment, early stakeholder influence, stakeholder endorsement of project plans and rich project communications. To secure project impact, strong project commitment and rich project communications were the main contributors. A well-structured and formal project approach and well understood and accepted project purpose, implying high quality management, also scored high. Captured experience was best supported by a well-structured and formal project approach and rich project communications. Practical implications ‐ As the project approach increases as a means for implementing strategic goals, project managers should devote increasing energies into rich communication both within the project and towards the project environment. Originality/value ‐ The study is cross-cultural. It shows that successful project management, regardless of cultural differences, still depends on "hard features" such as professional planning and cost control, but that "soft skills" such as rich communication and learning from experience are prerequisites for project management to achieve superior project success.

Keywords: Critical success factors; Project evaluation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2006

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