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Jan 26, 2017

Three Key Success Factor of Project Management

On Time Project Delivery
While on time project delivery may be important to your customer, it is also important to your senior management.  Delivering a project on time means you are freeing up your project resources according to the original project plan to work on other projects that likely need them right away.  On time delivery is really not a common occurrence, so when you can pull it off it's often an instant recognition factor and a nice feather in your project management cap.
In terms of the customer, delivering the project on time may mean success and rewards for the project sponsor or primary customer contact with their superiors.  Depending on how the solution ties into their internal company workings and commitments as well as their own project obligations, it may mean that they are able to meet a critical deadline that they made a prior commitment to.  This will also definitely make for a happy customer - you which we'll discuss in the third success factor below.

On Budget Project Delivery
The second key success factor, on budget project delivery, is just about as rare as on time project delivery.  In fact, they often go hand in hand.  And both definitely have a fudge factor.  Your senior management - and even your customer - will likely consider the project to be delivered on budget if it's within a certain percentage of the original budget forecast.  I'd like to say 10%, but if you're working a $1.5 million project, that's $150,000 and that's not a fudge factor - that's an absolute budget overrun.  So, obviously, the ‘acceptable' amount is somewhat dependent on the size of the project in terms of dollars.  Usually 3-5% is going to be acceptable by all parties - the customer and your senior management.
In order to ensure that you stay as close to on budget as you possibly can, it's critical that you closely manage scope.  If you and your team are performing work for the client that is out of scope, that means you are performing unplanned work using planned hours - and that will ALWAYS result in your project running over budget.  If there are scope changes, you must present those to the customer, get official signoff on them, and increase the project budget by that change order dollar amount.  That way, you'll have a much better chance of delivering an on budget solution and keep senior management and the customer happy in the process.

Customer Satisfaction
Customer satisfaction is a hard one - at times it can be very subjective.  On time delivery and on budget delivery may factor into their satisfaction level, but other things can affect it as well - and sometimes it's things you have very little control over or are clueless how to measure or fix.  The key as the project manager - in terms of customer happiness - is to make sure you stay engaged with them throughout the process and are tending to their needs.  Keep them informed, show them the output from your project management document on a weekly basis,  always treat them as part of the team, give them good and bad news in a timely fashion, and definitely address any concerns very quickly.  A customer concern that is left untouched ends up as an email or phone call to your CEO quicker than you can imagine - and customer satisfaction goes right out the window with it.
At the end of the project, have a detailed discussion with the customer.  Get their perspective on the successes and failures of the project, conduct lessons learned with them, and get a feel on whether you're likely to get repeat business from them.  Your goal should always be to have a happy, reference-able customer at the end of the engagement.

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