What are the key elements of successful projects?  

These are some ideas that I’ve seen work well.

Successful projects have:

1. An urgent and compelling objective

The project’s purpose, objective and frameworks are clearly defined. There is a sense of urgency, a timeframe to get things done and a compelling reason for doing it the project. All up, your efforts in delivering the project will make a difference to the company.

2. Alignment with business direction

The project supports the company’s business strategy. Its goals and outputs are aligned to the overall business direction and designed to further build the company’s performance.

3. A first goal that’s achievable in a short period

The project has a series of goals with detailed success measures, with the first goal achievable in a short timeframe – weeks rather then months. Long duration projects have a number of goals that can be progressively achieved and celebrated. 

4. A bottom-line result

Every project needs to either make the company some money or save the company some money. Its debits and credits. If you sink your time and effort, plus the company’s resources, into a project you need a discrete and defined return on that investment.
Successful projects have clear bottom-line results, so always establish (and promote) how your project delivers value.

5. The right people with the right skills

Projects are primarily delivered through people. Systems, processes and technology are secondary elements. Take the time to get your team’s style and skills mix right. Set clear accountabilities and regularly measure performance against them.

6. A clear and effective implementation process

Implementation and execution is the downfall for many projects. Many great efforts fail to make it over the line through lack of a rigourous implementation and change management process for introducing the project’s initiatives. Take the time to get the people and change stuff right – it’s what matters the most. Plan, communicate, direct, and manage all change.

7. A next step

A successful project creates change, builds performance and presents further opportunities. While the project has a defined end date and success criteria, its through accomplishing the project milestones that further steps are identified and planned for future projects