How to Define SUCCESS

Our favorite question for project managers, team members, sponsors and executives is, “how do you define success?” The wide variety of responses is fascinating.  The answers usually refine the project understanding, making the difference between a project that is just delivered and a project that is a resounding SUCCESS!
S – simple
U – user focused
C – clear
C – complete
E – everyone is aligned
S – sufficient level of detail
S – solves the problem
If success is complicated, how will you know when it’s achieved?  That’s why the first component of a success definition is “simple.” The definition must also include the perspective of the end user, or the person being impacted by the project.  What does the end user need to be or do differently to be successful?
A clear and complete definition of success means that any assumptions are made explicit.  If there are three countries that will use a new process, then the three countries are identified.  This is the difference between saying “Singapore, Australia, and Malaysia” versus “the Asia Pacific region.”
Alignment occurs as the definition is formulated.  By having discussions with leaders to clarify the success definition, the ongoing alliteration enables alignment.
Some people prefer a lot of detail and others want brevity.  The success definition must contain sufficient detail for someone to understand it, but not so much detail that it becomes verbose. Whatever problem you are challenged to solve, ensure that the solution is in alignment with your organization’s strategy.

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