Key Success Drivers: Meta-Study Findings Applicable to Large High-Technology Projects

Key Success Drivers: Meta-Study Findings Applicable to Large High-Technology Projects

Phil Crosby (Curtin University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/jitpm.2012040101
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Success in project management, and particularly in large, high-technology/IT projects, is not easily achieved. This paper draws together a significant number of case studies and research efforts relating to the success and failure of projects from the last four decades, in what is believed to be the only modern meta-study of its type. The author posits that there is a body of knowledge within the literature from which a number of key indicators or focus areas can be derived for practical application especially in the early stages of projects. Studies encompassing more than 2,800 projects are examined, and the success factors for general, and high-technology, projects are newly grouped and ranked as strategic success drivers for use prescriptively by project practitioners and approvers. New correlations between success indicators are presented and the principal drivers examined in further detail to reveal sometimes less obvious characteristics influencing project success. In a series of fieldwork interviews with key staff in high-technology projects, these drivers also emerge consistently as important factors in project success.
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Literature Overview

The present research is underpinned by material published from the mid 1970s to the near present, an era broadly covering the professionalisation of project management, and a full cycle of global economic activity. Studies in this period often highlight earlier classic mega-projects such as the Sydney Opera House, the Channel Tunnel, Concorde and space missions as examples of massive time/cost over-runs or performance failure. However the dataset is rich with examples of both successes and failures to learn from.

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