Success factors in project management

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Introduction and overview 

My group and I were assigned with the responsibility of sorting out the complicated customer base of Moments Café while ensuring we put in place strategies to help increase productivity of their social media. This project was generally successful and undertaken through a number of stages and levels as spelt out in the project management principles. In this reflective individual report, a post-project assessment is given. The essence of this assignment is to critically reflect and evaluate the extent of success of the project that the group carried out. Burke (2013) noted that the success of a project is measured by some key determinants, most of which are set as project objectives ahead of the project implementation. In our case, the project objectives were set to conform to success criteria that have been identified by Westerveld (2003). Westerveld further identifies such criteria as a set of success factors that influence any typical project. The reflection is therefore based on both the success factors and success criteria portrayed by Westerveld (2003). Based on the evaluation, recommendations on how similar projects should be approached in the future will also be given, as well as ways in which the group can be more effective with its future project works.

Reflection on success factors 

Westerveld (2003) identified about eight success factors, which include leadership and team, policy and strategy, stakeholder management, resources, contracting, project management, success criteria, and external factors. Schwalbe (2015) further explained that these success factors are generally those issues and concepts that go a long way to determine whether or not the project will succeed. Reflecting on the success factors enumerated will take the form of giving the overall attitude of the group towards these factors as manifested through our weaknesses and strengths. In terms of strength, it would be noted that there were five main areas that the group was outstanding and these were in terms of leadership and team, policy and strategy, stakeholder management, project management, and success criteria. Leadership and team work have been identified to be very instrumental to the success of any project (Verzuh, 2015; Boud, Cohen & Sampson, 2014). 

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In our case, the use of a well planned project structure as depicted in the appendix made it easier for us to work effectively as a team and have the right form of leadership needed to guide our actions. Indeed the effectiveness with leadership and teamwork also influenced our success in designing policies and strategies necessary in ensuring project success (Larson & Gray, 2013). In the same way, the success of the overall project management was also influenced by the extent of leadership in place (Mir & Pinnington, 2014; Leach, 2014). The group took stakeholder management very seriously, knowing that the client and its customer base were very special, who needed specific elements in the whole project to ensure that their needs were served better. Our stakeholder management was therefore influenced by the use of the stakeholder theory (Gido, Clements & Clements, 2014). Finally, regarding the strengths, the group ensured that it was guided by strict success criteria which were adhered to at all stages of the work. As emphasised by Kerzner (2013), deviating from the success criteria means the project will be achieving an outcome that it was not set to achieve.  

In respect of the weaknesses, the group was seen to have issues with resources, contracting and external factors. Indeed, the collection of these three success factors can be seen to all have external influences, which were mostly beyond the control of the group. In the body of literature, which situation is noted to be very common when applying the stakeholder theory as a principle (Walker, 2015). That is, there are mostly internal and external stakeholders. In our case, resources, particularly material or financial ones were expected to flow from external stakeholders but there were sometimes delays due to the need to ensure that the stakeholders operated at a pace that was considered more appropriate for them. There were sometimes external factors such as weather, which the group could not have any control over. Unfortunately, it was not all of these we could make contingency plans to cover as expected (Hegazy, 2013).

Analysis of success factors 

In this section of analysis of success factors, the extent to which each of the success factors can be measured or determined to have influenced the overall success of the project will be given. Considering leadership and team work, it has already been explained that the kind of leadership and strong teamwork in place was critical in giving directions and guidelines on what needed to be done, how it needed to be done, and at what time it was to be done (Shields & Rangarajan, 2013; Phillips, 2013). The project could therefore not have been successful without very strong leadership and teamwork in place. Policy and strategy formation was also instrumental to the success of the project. This is because the policy and strategy formed became the blueprint that spelled out exactly what needed to be done, and in what manner. For example policies were made on how the group needed to conduct itself in dealing with certain situations that came up in the course of the project. These were all factors that went a long way to ensure discipline and consequently contributed to project success. What is more, stakeholder management was very necessary for the project’s success because it ensured that the project was eventually delivered or completed in a manner that was in line with what stakeholders expected. On resources it would be admitted that the project would not have been completed efficiently if resources were not available and managed well. 

Westerveld (2003) explains that legal agreements need to be signed as part of the contracting process. In our case, there were not much legal contractual agreements, especially written ones. On project management, we ensured that the group’s work, as well as approach to the whole project was strongly guided under the principles of project management. This went a long way to influence the success of the project as it ensured that the project was taken through systematic stages, which avoided all forms of haphazard approach to the project (Nicholas & Steyn, 2017). As stressed by Turner (2016), when principles of project management are not followed, overall efficiency is negatively affected because the project lacks any logical guidelines on what needs to be done at a given time. What is more, the success criteria set for the project also served as an important guide in measuring what needed to be done at any point in time. The success criteria was necessary in determining the success of the project because all the project objectives were based on them (Heldman, 2015; Martinelli & Milosevic, 2016). Finally, the external factors such as weather, number of people with dementia, and security issues associated with the use of social media were all important in affecting the success of the project. However, the group could not have any control over this, meaning successes associated with these were not controlled or influenced by us.

Reflection on success criteria 

In terms of success criteria, Westerveld (2003) identified six key points, which are project results, appreciation by the client, appreciation by project personnel, appreciation by user, appreciation by contracting partners, and appreciation by stakeholders. In reflecting on the success criteria, the key steps and actions taken by the group which constituted our weaknesses and strengths will be highlighted. The project result criteria comprise how adequately the group was able to use or stick to budget, schedule and quality. For this area, the major strength of the group was the quality of deliverable in making the best and most-oriented recommendations for the Café on how to maximize the market. The project was also completed as scheduled but there were some budgetary constraints, which formed a core weakness. The project client was the owners of the Café and our core strength in ensuring they appreciated the work was to ensure that there was as much level of openness between ourselves and the client as possible. The same approach was taken towards our dealing with the users and stakeholders. In the body of literature, it is strongly recommended on the need to ensure adequate coordination with both internal and external stakeholders to ensure success of projects (Hwag & Ng, 2013; Sears et al., 2015).

While dealing with the client, users and stakeholders to ensure success, there were some weaknesses on our part as a project group. The core weakness faced was difficulty to commit as much time to these people as possible. Indeed, we did well in including them, particularly the client and the external users, who were going to access the service we were contracted to work on. This is not to say that we sidelined them as their inclusion was a major strength. However, we could not give them as much time as expected, due to the fact that our free time and theirs did not usually coincide. Another success criterion as identified by Westerveld (2003) is appreciation by project personnel. This criterion has further been explained as the extent to which the workers or project staff are supported to reach their personal goals. In this regard, the core strength exhibited was that individual members were each given the chance to set their own goals. It was based on these goals that the portfolios or responsibilities assigned to each person were made. However, some challenge or weakness faced was the fact that the personnel could not have a regular working atmosphere they might have wanted. This was because the working atmosphere was largely informal. There were however no contracting partners that we dealt with and so it is not possible to evaluate this criteria.

Analysis of success factors 

The success factors will be analysed by attempting to measure the extent of success attributed to each of them. Five criteria will be used out of the six given by Westerveld, given the fact that there were no contracting partners. The measure or analysis is given based on qualitative assessment from the outcome of interactions with the people involved in the project. With respect to project results, it should be said that the measure of success with this criterion was outstanding. This score is based on the fact that the project was finished on time and its quality at the time of testing was also phenomenal in terms of results achieved. It was only the budget that was exceeded but this was not much. Meanwhile, the fact that project budgets may be exceeded is a situation that has been considered very likely for most projects of this nature (Crawford, 2014; Svejvig & Andersen, 2015). 

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The ranking for appreciation by project personnel will also be said to be excellent since each group member had the chance of contributing to the project in a manner that helped them achieve their personal goals. The project therefore served as an avenue for personal growth and development (Pemsel & Wiewiora, 2013). Appreciation by client and users will both be scored as being very good. For the client, this ranking is given based on the fact that the specific needs of the initiated project were achieved (Hornstein, 2015). Clients also experienced ease with the use of our recommended marketing strategies, which is a major determinant for scoring appreciation by clients (Lock, 2014; Braglia & Frosolini, 2014). Finally, appreciation by stakeholders will be scored as good instead of being very good or excellent. This is because there was not as much chance to involve a lot of external stakeholders as we did for the client and the users. 

Conclusion and recommendations 

The need to reflect on projects after they have been completed is an important part of project management. Using the success factors and success criteria proposed by Westerveld, the key factors and criteria that influenced the success of the project have been reflected upon and analysed. From the paper, it has been identified that there was not the same level of success associated with each of the factors and criteria. Based on this outcome, it is strongly recommended that any future project by the group be done in a manner that seeks to maximise its strengths while minimising its weaknesses. Once this is done, the project itself will become very successful by producing the goals for which it was set. For this project, it is recommended that it will be made to continue to enjoy high level of monitoring and evaluation to measure how well it is able to contribute to the overall growth of the Café. Once growth levels are not as high as anticipated, it will be appropriate to make changes to specific areas of the project to ensure it aligns better with changing dynamics of the industry it finds itself.

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