Success Criteria

5 Feb

In his article entitled, “How can IS/IT projects be measured for success”, John Wateridge [1] examines the criteria for success. The main principle of the article is concerned with differing ideas of success i.e. if  the criteria for success is not clearly established before the project begins,  different project participants may have a different idea of what constitutes a successful project. “There has been little attempt in the past to define the criteria for success. Consequently, IS/IT projects have in many case perceived to have failed.” [1] In the article Wateridge, (1998), stresses how a criteria needs to be agreed upon in order to properly evaluate whether or not a IS/IT project is successful.

The article provides an extensive literature review presenting the varying ideas of what constitutes success. The research involved extensive questionnaires and in-depth interviews with companies under taking IS projects to ascertain what deems a project successful. The research revealed that the following six criteria were most important to project members. [1]

1. Meets User Requirements

2. Achieves Purpose

3. Meets Budget

4. Meets Time-scale

5. Happy Users

6. Meets quality

The results of the questionnaire are displayed below. [1]



The results reflect the historical and anecdotal evidence that time, budget and user requirements are extremely important to project participants. “The conclusion from the results indicates that project managers are focusing on the short-term criteria relating to the project ‘process’ and concentrating on meeting the time and budget constraints which are set by senior management as opposed to longer-term criteria relating to the ‘product’ such as delivering a system with which the users are happy.” [1]

Wateridge, [1], stresses the need for a clearly defined success criteria before project commencement as this will allow the project to be evaluated in terms of success upon completion. However he acknowledges the difficulty in reaching consensus. “There will in many cases inevitably be trade-offs and these trade-offs must be agreed by all parties before the project is started.” [1]

Does Wateridge, [1], have a point? “It is not enough to simply suggest that a project is a success if it is deliver on time and to budget?” [1] Is it important to determine the success criteria for each project to ensure accurate evaluation? Creating a success criteria is the only way to adequately evaluate successes, therefore it is an important tool to support  management teams in determining the success of their IS unit.


[1] Wateridge, J. (1998) How can IS/IT projects be measured for success? International Journal of Project

Management, 16 (1), 59-63.


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