How to Measure the Success of a Project: 5 Steps (+ Examples)


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Knowing how to measure the success of a project is crucial for project teams to evaluate their performance and ensure that their efforts align with their goals and objectives. While it’s common practice to measure scope, schedule, and budget, it’s important to acknowledge that they do not provide a comprehensive measure of project success.

In this article, we’ll go through success metrics in project management that teams can use to evaluate the efficiency of their processes and the effectiveness of their efforts. 

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5 Steps to Measure Project Success

1. Review business goals and project objectives

To create a success criteria for a project, the first step is to review the business goals and project objectives. By aligning the project’s goals with the overarching business goals, it becomes easier to define what success looks like and how it will be measured. This step allows project managers to identify the key performance indicators or KPIs that will be used to track progress and evaluate the project’s success. It also helps establish a clear framework for measuring success that stakeholders can get behind more easily.

2. Evaluate measurable factors

Once the goals and objectives have been set, the next step is identifying the factors that can be measured. These measurable factors may include meeting deadlines, staying within budget, and achieving the desired outcomes. It is also crucial to ensure that these points of measurement are repeatable, meaning that they can be consistently measured throughout the duration of the project. Additionally, traceability is important to ensure that the measurements can be linked back to the goals and objectives of the project.

3. Identify and prioritize metrics

Next is to determine which metrics would have the most impact on the project objectives and the overall outcome of the project and focus on them. From this insight, it becomes easier to identify and prioritize your success metrics that will serve as your guide in monitoring and evaluating the progress of the project.

4. Set up measurement tools

Now that you’ve determined the metrics you will use to measure the success of your project, it is vital to set up the appropriate tools to track and record these metrics. This ensures that the data is collected on a regular and real-time basis, allowing for accurate analysis and evaluation.

There are various options available for tracking project metrics, including surveys, trackers, and project management tools such as Smartsheet, Hive, or ClickUp.

When selecting the most suitable tool for your project, consider factors like team size, setup, and budget. Additionally, be sure to measure both qualitative and quantitative metrics to gain a comprehensive understanding of project success.

5. Communicate

In order to measure the success of a project, it is crucial to clearly communicate the priorities and metrics that will be used. By providing this information, stakeholders can align their efforts and focus on the areas that matter most.

Additionally, it is important to ensure that people understand how information is collected, as this will enable them to interpret the results correctly. Clear communication and transparency in data collection prevents misunderstandings and promotes accurate analysis.

11 Metrics for Measuring Project Success

The Project Manager’s Body of Knowledge Guide (PMBOK) lists product and project quality, timeliness, budget compliance, and level of customer satisfaction as metrics for project success. Over time, project managers have added additional factors to the list, and you should as well. That’s because

Timeliness (schedule)

One of the classic factors in measuring the success of a project, timeliness refers to how well the project aligns with its committed schedule. Things that can contribute to this metric include proper sprint planning and avoidance of task blockers.

In project management, timeliness is crucial as it directly affects the cost and budget management of the project. A project that is completed on time is more likely to stay within the allocated budget.

To measure the success of a project in terms of timeliness, project managers often use a metric known as schedule variance. This key performance indicator (KPI) compares the planned schedule with the actual schedule and helps determine if the project is on track or if there are delays that need to be addressed.

Read our Top Project Management Software Guyers’ Guide for the best tools to keep your projects on schedule.


Another classic metric to measure the success of a project is the alignment of expenses with the set budget. This metric indicates how well a project manager has maintained cost efficiency and controlled spending.

By properly tracking expenses and budget, it becomes easier to identify any hidden or unexpected costs that may have arisen during the project execution. This not only helps in keeping the project within the allocated budget but also enables the project manager to make informed decisions regarding resource allocation and cost management.

Two related project success KPIs in this regard are cost variance, which measures the difference between actual and planned costs, and resource utilization, which evaluates how effectively resources are being utilized to achieve project objectives.

Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction in project management refers to the ability of a project to meet or exceed customer expectations in terms of its outcome, quality, and delivery. This includes the end user’s perception of the output’s overall value, effectiveness, and adherence to established requirements and deadlines.

One common KPI used to measure this is the customer satisfaction index, which quantifies the level of satisfaction among customers. This index provides valuable insights into the effectiveness and value of a project, allowing project managers to make necessary adjustments and improvements for future projects.

Output quality and compliance

Quality refers to the overall excellence of the project deliverables and whether they meet the desired standards and requirements. Compliance, on the other hand, refers to the extent to which the project adheres to relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards. To measure quality and compliance, project managers can use various tools and techniques such as audits, inspections, and quality control processes.


Sustainability refers to the ability of a project to meet its objectives while minimizing negative effects on the environment, society, and the economy. One way to assess the project’s environmental impact is by evaluating its carbon footprint, energy consumption, and waste generation. Its social impact can be assessed by looking at the jobs it created, the community engagement, and stakeholder satisfaction. Finally, the economic impact of the project can be measured by analyzing its return on investment, cost savings, and long-term viability.

Project value

While completing a project on time and within budget is important, it does not necessarily guarantee its success. A metric to consider in measuring project success is the value realized from the project.

Stakeholders may have their own definition of progress and success, which may not be about meeting deadlines or staying within budgetary limits. To measure the success of a project, it is crucial to evaluate the capabilities, functionality, and overall value delivered. This value should be something that continues to be valuable even if the project were to halt abruptly.

By focusing on value realization rather than just schedule and budget compliance, organizations can ensure that projects truly meet stakeholder expectations and contribute to long-term success.

Cycle time

Cycle time refers to the duration it takes to complete a project from start to finish. By evaluating this metric, businesses can gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of their project management strategies and processes. The quicker a project is completed without compromising quality, the more favorable the outcome for the organization. Monitoring cycle time allows businesses to identify areas for improvement and optimize their project workflows to achieve greater success.


While there are various ways to measure the success of a project, profitability provides a tangible and quantifiable indicator of its effectiveness. Profitability can be measured by comparing the project’s financial gains against its costs. If the project generates a significant profit, it can be deemed successful in terms of its ability to generate revenue and contribute to the organization’s bottom line.

It is important to note, however, that profit alone should not be the sole determinant of project success. Customer satisfaction, meeting project objectives, and delivering value to stakeholders are just three of more factors that lead to project success.

Capability development

When a project is able to introduce new skills, knowledge, or tools to the team or client, it indicates that the project has achieved its goals and objectives. This can be measured by evaluating the level of growth and improvement in the team’s capabilities or the client’s ability to perform certain tasks or achieve specific outcomes.

For example, if a project involves implementing a new software system, the success can be measured by assessing how well the team has learned to use the software and how effectively it has improved the client’s productivity or efficiency.


Improvement refers to the extent to which a project team has been able to introduce more efficient or effective results by utilizing their efforts and capabilities. This can be measured in various ways. One way is to assess the overall performance metrics of the project before and after the implementation of certain strategies or actions.

For example, if a project aimed at reducing production costs, the success can be measured by comparing the cost per unit before and after the implementation of cost-saving measures.

Importance of Measuring Project Success the Right Way

Ensures project impact

Measuring project success the right way helps ensure that the project has positive impact on the business, industry, or community it is targeting. For example, if a marketing team’s project involves launching a new product, should their success metrics only involve the timeliness, scope, and budget management of their marketing campaign? While these factors may be good indicators that the project was managed well, other success factors such as the number of conversions or leads must also be considered. This will allow the team to direct its efforts towards achieving objectives that would impact the business, instead of metrics that only provide a false sense of success.

Aligns the team

Setting up the right success metrics fosters collaboration and unity among the project team members. Coming from the previous section’s example, the marketing team that is intent on collecting or converting leads would brainstorm with that same intent in mind. This will foster a healthy exchange of ideas and collaborative compromise when needed. When everybody has the same priorities in mind, negotiations are smoother, individuals can be empowered to be more independent, and discussions are more productive.

Aids in decision-making

When project success factors are defined, it helps establish priorities and provides a clear roadmap for decision-making processes. For example, if the success factor for a project is meeting deadlines, this will guide decisions regarding resource management. It will help determine how resources should be allocated and utilized in order to ensure timely completion of the project. Additionally, measuring success the right way also helps in change management. By identifying and evaluating the factors that contribute to the success of a project, it becomes easier to identify areas that require change or improvement and make informed decisions accordingly.

Supports team and process improvement

By accurately assessing the outcomes and impact of a project, organizations can identify which areas need to be fortified to improve future performance. This measurement provides valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the project, allowing for targeted improvements and adjustments. By focusing on areas that are priorities for enhancement, organizations can optimize their processes and ensure that future projects are executed more effectively and efficiently.

Additionally, measuring success the right way allows for better insights during post-mortem analysis. It enables teams to understand what worked well and what didn’t, facilitating a more accurate assessment of the project’s overall performance. This knowledge can then be used to refine strategies and approaches for future endeavors.

Promotes customer satisfaction

Including customer satisfaction as one of the project success factors helps to align the goals of the team with the needs of the customers. By understanding the sentiment and feedback of the customers, the project team can ensure that their output is beneficial to the end users.

Client satisfaction and repeat business

A successful project that meets or exceeds client expectations leads to positive word-of-mouth referrals and more business opportunities in the future. Building a strong relationship with clients based on good business outcomes can result in increased trust and loyalty, which in turn can generate repeat business and further success for the project team.

Best Practices in Measuring Project Success

Plan in advance

When it comes to measuring the success of a project, planning in advance is highly recommended. Treating success metrics as an afterthought can lead to ambiguous or irrelevant measurements that do not accurately reflect the project’s achievements. For this reason, it is important to establish KPIs and success criteria early on in the project planning process. This allows for a more systematic and comprehensive approach to measuring project success, ensuring that all relevant factors are taken into account.


Collaborate with the team when identifying and finalizing the success metrics. By involving the team in this process, you tap into their expertise and insights, resulting in a more comprehensive set of metrics. Collaborating also fosters a sense of ownership and commitment among team members, increasing their motivation and dedication to achieving project success.

Contextualize metrics and aim for value

When measuring the success of a project, it is advisable to go beyond the standard PMBOK-recommended success metrics and consider others that can help measure the value of the project. While traditional metrics such as on-time delivery, budget adherence, and stakeholder satisfaction are important, they may not capture the full value that a project brings.

Look at both tangible and intangible measures of success to get a comprehensive understanding of the project’s impact. Tangible measures may include increased revenue or cost savings achieved as a result of the project, while intangible measures encompass improved customer satisfaction and enhanced brand reputation. By incorporating these additional metrics into the evaluation process, project managers can effectively assess the true value and success of their projects.

Underpromise and overdeliver

This approach involves setting realistic expectations with stakeholders and then exceeding those expectations by delivering more than what was initially promised.

By underpromising, project managers ensure that they are not overcommitting and setting themselves up for failure. This also allows them to focus on delivering quality results rather than rushing to meet unrealistic goals. Overdelivering, on one hand, helps build trust and credibility with stakeholders, enhancing the overall perception of the project’s success. By going above and beyond what was expected, project teams demonstrate their capabilities and commitment to delivering exceptional results.

Go beyond project completion

In today’s fast-paced business environment, many teams tend to move on to the next project without giving much thought to the outcomes of their previous endeavors. However, if you truly want to set yourself apart and demonstrate a genuine concern for your client’s success, continue doing check-ins after project completion. This ongoing engagement not only shows your dedication but also allows you to measure the success of your project and its impact on the client’s business.

Review results regularly

Regularly reviewing the results of your metrics should not be limited to just the end of the project but should also be done throughout the project lifecycle across all project milestones. By doing this, you can track progress and identify any areas that may need improvement or adjustment. This makes way for proactive decision-making and enables you to take corrective actions in a timely manner. Additionally, reviewing the metrics regularly provides valuable insights into the effectiveness of your project management strategies and helps in making informed decisions for future projects.

Keep metrics visible

When metrics are finalized, it would be good to make them visible to the entire team to allow for transparency and accountability. When team members are aware of the specific goals and objectives that need to be achieved, they are more likely to stay focused and motivated. Additionally, having visible project success metrics allows for regular progress updates and evaluations. By regularly reviewing these metrics, necessary adjustments can be made to ensure that the project stays on track and yields its intended outcomes.

Evaluate results objectively

When evaluating the success of a project, it is crucial to approach the analysis objectively. Whether the outcome is positive or negative, it serves as valuable feedback for improvement.

In the face of failure, it is important to recognize that failing forward will ultimately lead to success. By learning from mistakes and adapting strategies, better results can be achieved.

On the other hand, if a project is successful, it is beneficial to evaluate the factors that contributed to its success. This evaluation helps prevent complacency and ensures that future projects are approached with the same level of diligence and attention to detail.

Wrapping Up

In order to determine the success of a project, it is crucial to measure its progress and outcomes using relevant metrics. These metrics can help in evaluating the project’s performance, identifying areas for improvement, and making informed decisions. Measuring project success through these relevant metrics also allows for an objective assessment of performance, which eventually contributes to the team’s growth and the client’s satisfaction.

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