Since the 1970s academics and practitioners in the discipline of project management have sought answers to two inter-related questions: How is project success defined and measured? What are the influences on project success? To answer the first question people have studied project success criteria/key performance indicators. To answer the second, studies have focused on project critical success factors. Daniel (1961) introduced the concept of “success factors,” stating that “in most industries there are usually three to six factors that determine success; these key jobs must be done exceedingly well for a company to be successful” (p.116). Approaches to the management of information have been established using Daniel’s concept. For example, Rockart (1979) developed a Critical Success Factor (CSF) method for meeting the information needs of top executives. This method focused on understanding the objectives and goals of the company and the factors (CSFs) critical to their achievement, and establishing information systems to report on performance in these two areas. A key challenge has been to integrate the definitions and measures of success with CSFs, and in this respect work has been carried out to develop frameworks linking models of success criteria (the measures of success) with CSFs (see, for example, van Veen-Dirks & Wijn, 2002). The concept of CSFs has also been applied to project environments, with project CSFs being “those inputs to the management system that lead directly or indirectly to the success of the project” (Cooke- Davies, 2002, p. 185). Project management theory has also looked for a holistic answer to the questions of “How is project success defined and measured?” and “What are the influences on project success?”, through the development of models linking project success criteria and project CSFs (Westerveld, 2002; Bryde, 2003).
In respect of individual project CSFs, the importance of project sponsorship to achieving successful project outcomes has long been recognized. In a review of previous studies of CSFs, the sponsorship of projects by top management was highlighted as one of 8 major influences on success (Pinto & Slevin, 1987) and confirmed in a later study by the same authors as one of 10 influences (Pinto & Slevin, 1989). The importance of sponsorship is recognized through the distinction made between Macro CSFs, which involves activities in the realm of the sponsoring organisation and Micro CSFs, which are carried out in the domain of the project team (DeWitt, 1988). This crucial role of sponsorship has been identified in various manufacturing and service-related business environments, such as defence (Tishler et al., 1996), construction (Black et al., 2000), research & development (Pinto & Slevin, 1989) and management consultancy (Jang & Lee, 1998). Studies of project CSFs in IT environments have confirmed the pivotal influence of project sponsorship (see, for example, Bytheway, 1999; Fui-Hoon Nah et al., 2001; Procacinno et al., 2002).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Organisational Competency in Project Management: Ensuring that the organisation is in a ready state in order for projects to be able to deliver benefits.
This work was previously published in Encyclopedia of Information Science and Technology: edited by M. Khosrow-Pour, pp. 2597-2601, copyright 2005 by Information Science Reference, formerly known as Idea Group Reference (an imprint of IGI Global).
Project Critical Success Factors: The influences on the success, or otherwise, of a project. A distinction can be made between the underlying factors, or causes of success or failure and the symptoms of an ineffective project management process. The lack of top management support is a typical project critical success factor, which can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as adequate resources not being made available to the project.
Project Success Criteria/Key Performance Indicators: The measures of success. The terms project success criteria and project key performance indicators are used interchangeably. Traditional measures are meeting cost, time and quality objectives. Other measures are linked to the attributes used by a stakeholder to judge whether their expectations have been met.
Project Manager: An individual with the responsibility of ensuring the project objectives are delivered.