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The elusive concept of project success

How do we know if projects are successful and does it matter? - Understanding the concept "project success" and the challenge of evaluating projects.
A woman standing in front of a beautiful sunset giving two thumbs up.
© Luleå University of Technology
How do we know if projects are successful?

Regardless of project, everyone involved wants to succeed with their projects – and get recognition for the efforts made, for example the project manager, the project team, the steering group, and the customer

Does it matter?

Well, if we do not know if our project is a success or a failure, we:

  • can lose customers (if we think the project is a success but they do not)
  • can lose dissatisfied team members during or after the project
  • cannot learn or understand how to improve
  • can wrongly be congratulated or blamed for the project performance and results
  • do not know the success criteria, and consequently not the success factors.


Project success is an illusive, and multidimensional concept, and there is no consensus what constitutes “project success” or “project failure”.

© Luleå University of Technology
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