Revisiting the definition of IT project success by Yves Cavarec

Revisiting the definition of IT project success by Yves Cavarec

Speaker: Yves Cavarec

PM teacher in Business Schools, Author

PM Skills - Nogent-sur-Marnes

Tuesday, 8 May - 14.00–15.15 - 1 hour, 15 minutes

Summary: The triple constraint used to be a convenient approach to define a successful project. It is still common to use scope, time and costs in statistics to separate the good and the bad. The Standish Group, for example, continues to use these traditional criteria to build up its famous Chaos Report. It is high time to use business criteria to redefine the success of projects and it is high time to take organisation impacts into account before considering if a so called “IT project” is successful or not. Learning objectives

maurel-celine.jpgReport by: 

Céline Maurel, PMP

France Sud Chapter


Revisiting the definition of IT project success by Yves Cavarec


70% of IT projects fail, that’s what study groups report. Many have tried to understand and reported various sources of difficulty from unclear objectives to poor project management or technological and political environment difficulties and many other reasons. But, Yves Cavarec thinks that projects not fail that much! Project success is based upon the triple constraint: be on time, in budget and in specifications. Even if risk management decreases the probability of project failure, Yves Cavarec states that the psychological and thepolitical explanation must also be considered.

Psychological aspect: People often underestimate the duration and the resources needed for a project and overestimate the benefits. They also can’t move too far from the initial estimate. These two points could be avoided in adopting an outside view estimate.

Political aspect: Due to political pressure, people amplify the benefits and minimize the planning in order to get funding.

Yves Cavarec states that the triple constraint CANNOT be the measure of project success. Nowadays, project environment is uncertain and more complex than during the 1970’s. A PM is facing a paradigm: he can make any decision at the beginning of the project ignoring its consequences while in the end he knows what should be done but it’s too late!

Also, success depends on the stakeholder’s point of view as each party has its own success criteria. Yves Cavarec proposes a model to set up the right success criteria: the success objectives need to be clearly detailed and common shared in order to shape the project commitment. And they must be aligned to the business purpose to be realistic.

Let’s forget about scope, time and cost! Each company should have its own success criteria and the conditions in which they are built are essential (Patrick Lencioni’s model): trust, discussions, commitment, accountability and attention to the project success criteria are the key factors to success!