Two Key Elements of Success (Part II)

Part II – Know Your Six-Month Success Measurement

The two critical elements of success when completing a project are:

  1. to know your project end-date, and
  2. to know what you will measure in 6 months to determine whether this project was a success.

Success Measurement In Six Months

You are only as good as the project that you just delivered. As harsh as it seems, it is true. People are going to remember (briefly) the project that you produced, and what it was like to work with you on the project. And then people are going to forget, or people are going to start seeing the things that are unfinished. It isn’t that your work isn’t good, it is just that once you satisfy one need, humans will always look to satisfy the next need. For example, once you have a stable source of food, your future aspiration will be to start to make the food taste delicious. This forward movement is a good thing. It is why humans progress and grow.

There will always be some sort of buyer’s remorse when a project is complete. “How come we didn’t do. . . .?” Because once you are done the project, the initial pain is no longer there.

There is a way to help people feel satisfied with what they have done and helped them grow to the next level. As your project starts, define what measurement you will need six months after the project is complete to make the project a success.

It might be that you have x number of users. It might be that there are y number of records updated, or that each user accesses a record in z seconds (hopefully z is just a fraction of a second.) Once you agree on your 6-month measurement, your project will fall into place. You will know exactly what you are working towards. You will also know when you are successful.

You need to be cautious about the number of 6-month measurements that you choose. Choose the measures that show that your most significant problems have been solved. If you don’t know what the biggest problem is, make defining this the place to start. Don’t allow yourself to choose more than three 6-month measurements. If you do, each will become meaningless.

To What End?*

What do you do with your 6-month measurements? Start to measure your results right away. Show your success rate before the project is being done, or even as you work on the project. Then show your success rate at month 1, 2, 3, etc. What you will find is:

  1. You will know if your project is successful, or if there are tweaks to be made.
  2. You will focus all project participants on the intended outcomes of the project.
  3. The project value is a business benefit, not just busywork.

Never forget to start with your two key elements: a project end-date, and a target measurement after six months. With these two anchors, everything else will fall into place.

* I’ll write more detail about what to do with your 6 months metrics in a future blog article.