If project success was like a running race, you don’t want to come in last. To ensure your project finishes well, you need to set up your project success criteria and prepare for the trials ahead. If you are anything like me, you will need to immediately know whether the project you just completed was successful.

You want to feel that sense of accomplishment in crossing that project finish line. But, to stand on the winner’s pedestal and hold up that first-place trophy, you need to create a plan and set up your project success criteria first.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the success of your project (and training for a race), there is no easy shortcut. Since success can be defined in many ways, your success criteria will determine whether you are standing on that pedestal with a first-place trophy or walking away with a participation ribbon. In this blog post, we’re going to discuss some essential project success criteria and how they can be used to improve your projects and get you that win!

Define your project success criteria

In project management, we like to use the SMART goal framework when defining project objectives. SMART, or specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals are steps you need to add to your project. An example of using SMART to define your project success criteria goes something like this:

Let’s say you want to increase web traffic to your site. A SMART goal could be:

“I want to increase web traffic from the United States by 25% in the next three months.”
This project success criterion is specific (you’re targeting a location), measurable (you have defined an amount and time frame), achievable (a 25% increase is ambitious but possible), relevant (this will help your business grow), and timebound (three months gives you a timeline to work with).

Here is another example of SMART, and time it’s for a project that’s more people-focused:
“Our team will receive weekly training on customer service to improve our customer satisfaction score by five points within six months.”

In this project success criterion, you focus on training your team to improve a customer service metric. This goal is also specific, measurable, achievable (with hard work!), relevant (improving customer service will lead to happier customers), and timebound.

Your project success criteria don’t have to be set in stone – you can constantly adjust them as your project progresses. But it’s essential to at least start with some basics so that you have a foundation to build from. Without defining your project goals, it’ll be challenging to track progress and assess whether or not you’ve been successful.

Track progress and revise as needed

Once you have defined your project success criteria, track progress along the way. If this were a race – this would be the time when you would compare how you are feeling now (weeks into the training plan) compared to day 1. Knowing where you were compared to where you are will help meet your future goals.

If you are falling behind, you can always revise your project plan and success criteria as needed. Also, don’t forget to celebrate project milestones along the way! Celebrating small wins will help keep everyone motivated and focused on the end goal. Again, with the race metaphor here – as there is nothing better than hitting a new personal record when training for a race – celebrate the little things and prepare for the big ones!

Make sure your criteria are attainable

When developing project success criteria, make sure that they are achievable. This may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how often people set themselves up for failure by setting unrealistic goals. For example, I once told myself I could write, develop and deliver a website for a client in one month. While I did accomplish the task, it was stressful, expensive, and nothing I ever want to do again.

It is important to remember that your project success criteria should be achievable, realistic, and relevant to your project objectives. There was no point for me to set a goal to create a website in 1 month when the client would have been perfectly okay with me if I had taken three months. Not only was my goal unrealistic, but it led to internal disappointment and frustration among my team members.

Get buy-in from stakeholders

Once you have developed your project success criteria, you need to obtain buy-in from your project stakeholders. These stakeholders include anyone who has a vested interest in the project and its success or failure. Buy-in is important because it ensures that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Three ways to get buy-in from your stakeholders

The first way is to ensure that they are involved in the project from the beginning. This means involving them in project planning and setting up regular communication channels so that they can provide input along the way.

Another way to get buy-in is by sharing your project success criteria with them early on and getting their feedback. This helps them feel invested in the project and allows you to make sure that your standards are realistic and relevant to their needs.

The last way to get buy-in is by keeping them updated on project progress and milestones. Keeping them updated helps ensure that they are aware of the project’s status and can provide input if needed. To ensure that they are updated with the most recent milestones and tasks, invest in a project management platform like Hive. Hives’ unique platform will keep them updated with project progress and allow them to provide feedback in real-time.

The importance of project success criteria

If you are joining me in the race that is creating project success criteria, it’s time we get training. As you can see, project success criteria are vital to keeping your project moving and heading toward the finish line. Creating criteria will help you set realistic goals, track progress, and get buy-in from stakeholders. By developing robust project success criteria, you can increase your chances of project success and hold up that first place trophy.

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