Project Management Institute

A retrospective look at our evolving understanding of project success

Because success connotes different things to different people, its meaning is very context-dependent. Over the past forty years, professional views of project success--as documented in the literature--have evolved as project management has matured: Definitions that previously only evaluated project implementation to determine project success now assess the entire project and product life cycle. Such an expanded focus has helped establish the strategic value of practicing project management, of the field?s focus on matters beyond the technical and tactical to include the alignment of projects to strategy and the value of projects as competitive advantages. This paper assesses the evolution of project success. It defines efficiency and effectiveness, discusses the current perception of project management as an operational asset, and advocates for the field?s maturation into both an operational and a strategic asset.
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