10 top tips for project success: understand success

By 20/10/2015 3 Comments

In order to be successful, you need to know understand success really means. Success isn’t the same for every project, even with the same client. In the same way that we begin a project with discovery, we start leading for success by discovering what success is. Success is likely to be a matrix of tangibles and intangibles across both client and agency. Success isn’t the same for both. And we need to ensure that it is not mutually exclusive.

Knowing what success really is on a project might seem obvious. It’s hitting those constraints – delivering on time, on budget, on scope isn’t it? Yes, but that’s not the whole story. Delivering a project to meet those constraints is just the start. You need to know what success means to all stakeholders on a project – and that’ll go way beyond time, budget and scope. To secure project success first and foremost, you have to be sure to understand how project success relates to both your agency, and importantly, your client’s strategy.

Success for our clients

Clients always want more for less. So on the face of it, that’s success – delivering something better, for less money. But if you dig a bit deeper, what is the underlying client strategy; what’s the strategic importance of the project? We can be guilty of doing projects for the sake of it because we’re paid to.

But beyond just building a new app or a website, why do they want us to do this; what are they hoping to achieve? And what did the previous vendor do wrong? What are the KPI’s? Make sure there are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant goals so that we can measure against them, and prove success and quantify our value.

As well as the regular KPI’s and metrics this also means understanding success as it relates to latent requirements and ‘soft’ deliverables that are not necessarily part of the project charter or scope. For a client, this means understanding the strategic importance of the project, and how it can meet their needs so that their strategic objectives are met and ideally, exceeded. Successful projects will not only keep your agency’s success metrics alive but also support the conversion of a client’s strategy into reality.

Success for our agency

Whether or not anyone will openly say it, an agency’s goals are usually diametrically opposed to clients, we’re in the business of making money too; there’s an appetite to do less, for more. The caveat is usually awards – everyone seems to buy into the idea of investing agency dollars if awards are at stake. So success for an agency is always about making money but also coupled with this is the desire to keep everyone excited to work at the agency. That means developing award-winning creative or utilising some bleeding edge technology, developing new capabilities to provide interesting, challenging, and unique work for employees.

Why is this important?

Success matters for you too. The success of your projects means you get to keep your job, have fun and leave on time without your hair falling out. Understanding success means we can lead the team into it – we start becoming more than just another cog in the machine, glorified paper pushers, but we’re able to actually lead and steer the ship on course.

Understanding success and documenting it also means you can prove your success, especially when things don’t turn out quite the way everyone expected. Even a project that seems to be a total failure, it probably isn’t. By understanding success we can always find a silver lining in there somewhere, even if it is a bit hidden; at the very least, you’ve discovered what not to do next time!

What do you think?

What do you think? How important is understanding success to ensure your project success? I’d love to hear if you’ve got any thoughts on ensuring project success in digital project management. Join the conversation below and let us know what you’re thinking!

Ben Aston

Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager and VP of Client Services at FCV, a full service digital agency in Vancouver, Canada. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.


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