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Describing what success looks like

From: Managing Small Projects

Video: Describing what success looks like

Once you identify a project's deliverables, you also need a way to tell that what you get is what you want. Success criteria may be fairly simple and straightforward. Tangible deliverables with built-in measures are the easiest. For example, with the relocation, one success criteria is receiving a building permit from the county government. If you instead, get a letter from the county asking for changes, you know you have more work to do. Fortunately many small project deliverables fall in this category.

Describing what success looks like

Once you identify a project's deliverables, you also need a way to tell that what you get is what you want. Success criteria may be fairly simple and straightforward. Tangible deliverables with built-in measures are the easiest. For example, with the relocation, one success criteria is receiving a building permit from the county government. If you instead, get a letter from the county asking for changes, you know you have more work to do. Fortunately many small project deliverables fall in this category.

In the relocation example, the Furniture and Equipment move is successful when everything is in position in the new space, and all the equipment is running. Ideally, you want success criteria defined, so you can ask, is this what you wanted? You can get a simple yes or no. But what if criteria aren't so obvious? You need to come up with ways to measure success. The measures you use will vary depending on the project. For example, with the relocation project you might have trouble specifying a measure of quality for the work that's been done.

One way to create a measure for quality could be that the dimensions of the construction are within a quarter inch of the dimensions on the drawings. With less obvious criteria, you also need to think about methods for verifying these results. For instance, you might survey your clients to see what they think about the changes you're planning. The test you develop should be simple and easy to administer. How do you define criteria for the design of the new company logo or measure the usability of a website? Surveys are questionnaires or another way to measure qualitative results.

For example, you can ask 50 of your customers what they think of your new logo or you could ask end users to fill out a questionnaire about your product's ease of use. Early in the project you don't have to describe all the criteria for every deliverable. Start with the criteria for the final deliverable you give to the customer. That one is particularly important, because it usually ties into getting signoff that the project is complete and it might trigger the final payment.

You can swing back around to the deliverable spreadsheet as you define and plan the project. In the process, identifying deliverables or uncovering more detail about how you'll evaluate them. In your deliverable spreadsheet label a blank column Success Criteria. Use the relocation project or your own project and fill out the Success Criteria for your main deliverables. You can add to these throughout the project. With your deliverables identified and Success Criteria spelled out, you'd be able to assess whether the project is delivering what it's supposed to, every step of the way.

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Managing Small Projects

38 video lessons · 16615 viewers

Bonnie Biafore
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