How do you define project success (or failure)?

I recently read a post by Robert Diana claiming that processes do not fail, people fail.  It made me think… we define project success or failure by measureable factors such as budget, time and quality of results.   Rarely do we ever include people in the mix.  “The project went over budget because Manager XYZ hired too many staff” or “We succeeded because the team showed up on time every day.”   What they are essentially saying is that people either followed or didn’t follow a plan or process correctly. 

These statements may have bearing on the outcome of a project, but do they really sum it up?  I come from the belief that people try their best NOT to fail, and that projects end up succeeding or failing based on how well they were planned, what resources were allocated and how well the strategy was built.   Rarely is it ever one thing, but a combination of many factors.  You can blame mistakes for failure or success on good work ethic, but at the end of the day, if a process is faulty, it wont be followed correctly, regardless of who was assigned to follow it. 

What do you think?   Is it people, processes or both?

Category: Information Development
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