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Development of Project Measures of Success

There is no universally agreed definition of project (or programme) success. Traditional measures have focussed on efficient execution: adherence to schedule and budget and achievements of scope. These are measures of project management performance. They do not capture how well the project has delivered against its original objectives - nor its wider outcomes. For example, delivery of the core investment (e.g. a new road or building) is no guarantee of success.

This Research Project will seek to answer how best to measure project outcomes to support effective delivery leadership of all of the dimensions of complex projects. The matrices proposed in RP5 would help Project Mangers know when they are on the right track, accomplishing policy intentions and delivering projects. It will also enable Project Managers to initiate better conversations between stakeholders to inform and navigate uncertain, unpredictable, dynamic environments more successfully. This, whilst retaining rigour,  responsibility and accountability, is required when huge issues and many billions of public funds are at stake.

This research has been exploring how we arrive at better metrics for complex projects, curating leading practice and taking into account the characteristics of the complex social systems which are a feature of many complex projects. Conversations with SROs highlighted the relationship between the 'political sphere' and the 'delivery sphere' as one of the determinants of the choice of metrics which account for the things that matter - that is, metrics which both reflect and account for the multiple, sometimes contested, often tacit, perspectives of all the stakeholders. We have extended this research to include the perspectives of current and recent Ministers and this is proving a very interesting, insightful line of inquiry, drawing, for example, on new thinking and practice on social value as well as how to create the conditions for better dialogue in contested spaces.

Project Stages

  • Stage 1: Explore the research issues with stakeholders - from their different perspectives and positions. This will include people from the politics & policy space; delivery; leadership; evaluation & audit; R&D; education; and professional bodies.
  • Stage 2: Capture some of the best practices and methods and approaches currently in use or under development .
  • Stage 3: Provide details and gain support for a further advanced research proposal.


To find out more, or how you can contribute to this important research, please contact us: or +61 2 6120 5110.

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