Guideline Five | Success

5. Identify and integrate key success factors and indicators.

Success, however that is envisaged, is the ultimate goal of a project. Experience suggests that the identification and use of two particular elements concerning success can be valuable for project strategy, implementation and management, including evaluation.
The first of these is Success Indicators (SIs), which define or illuminate what success means or will look like for a particular project. SIs are sometimes known by different terms, such as ‘success criteria’. Commonly, they are operational definitions of outcomes, including deliverables (e.g. reports, resources developed), or data/evidence concerning these. They can take many different forms, and those below are just a few examples.

  • By the end of the second year of implementation of the new SS Module, student attrition from 1st year will be reduced by at least 30%
  • The Student Learning Guide (as policy, process and resource) will be established in all schools at UXY. Evidence of this shall include: ………………………………..
  • Satisfaction ratings from 80% of the pilot users of the Web-based OTS Vignettes shall be in the High category (see Resource Evaluation Attachment)
  • The key findings generated concerning curriculum renewal shall be endorsed by the Education Sub-Committee of the Institute of PQR

Typically a project will have a number of SIs. Five or less is the range we recommend. Some might be set at a minimal achievement level and some might be intended to bring an element of ‘stretch’ to the project (i.e. they might be desirable but difficult to attain).
We mention here two of the several reasons why articulation of SIs is important. First, they provide basic guidance for evaluation of the overall project, and one of the extensions of evaluation, reporting to satisfy accountability requirements. Second, if the project team has a clear understanding of what success means, decisions on project planning and activities are likely to be better.

Success factors, as we use the concept, are different to SIs. They are the likely (or demonstrated, if considered after a project is completed) causes of success, rather than indicators of it. Critical Success Factors (CSFs) are things considered important for the process (or “how”) of achieving desired results. They can be conditions (e.g. systematic collaboration between two key groups), particular resources, special skills or ways of operating, dependencies in project design or schedules, and many other possible factors.
CSFs are often a very valuable aspect of Intended Project Logic. When considered together with SIs, they provide insights to help plan and implement the best tactics and activities to achieve optimal success. Put simply, knowing what we want success to look like (SIs) usually provides clues on what will be important in terms of how to get there (CSFs), and knowledge of both is important for making choices or decisions (e.g. about people, methods and actions).

CSFs can also be very useful for guiding formative evaluation. Since they are the things that are considered to be important for success (e.g. excellent two-way communication with the Heads of School) they should get special attention in terms of monitoring and improvement during the project.

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