Top Success Criteria Examples for Project: Best Practices, Tools & Techniques


Various organisations take up projects to cater to consumer needs. But how do the companies decide which projects to take on and which to slide past? Here’s where project success criteria come in, which gives the companies specific indices to judge the fruitfulness of a project.

To determine the success criteria of projects, the project managers work closely with the customers. They merge the organisation’s goals with customer feedback to form these criteria. Apart from the obvious criteria like budget, time, etc., many more indices are discussed in this blog.

Read on to learn more about success criteria, examples, characteristics, and more.

What are Success Criteria in Project Management?

The simplest way to define success criteria is to say they are certain measurable terms. These criteria act as a parameter and answer the question, “What is the preferred outcome of this project?” This criterion consists of elements and activities ensuring a project is completed successfully. 

The Iron Triangle, a summation of scope, time and cost, is the most prominent success criteria example.

Why are Success Criteria Important for Project Success?

Project success criteria serve much importance to an organisation. They aid the project managers, and project teams, in measuring the activity progress. This, in turn, ensures that the organisation meets the client’s expectations. 

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Characteristics of Good Success Criteria

The following factors characterise any good success criteria:

  • It is specific to the goals and well-defined, focusing entirely on the task at hand.
  • It is quantifiable or measurable.
  • It is timeline-based.
  • It is realistic and can be achieved in due time.
  • It is relevant to the goals.

Examples of Success Criteria in Project Management

Project success criteria help to curate standards that stakeholders can use for project success evaluation. Here are the most common success criteria examples: 

1. Deliverables-based

The quality of deliverables is perhaps the most crucial determinant of a project’s success. This criterion is a measure of the outcome or end product quality. For instance, whether the software will be successful depends on its ease of use to the customers, reachability, accessibility, etc. Similarly, a cell phone launch’s success depends on its functionality and usability. 

2. Milestone-based

Milestones or goals of the clients are the second-most vital factor for determining project success. Any project can be considered successful if it makes the customer’s goal their priority. The projects must be attuned to the goals and objectives of the client, and the product managers must focus on re-aligning the project as per client feedback from time to time.

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3. Budget-based

The budget or the cost factor estimates the project’s total cost. This parameter helps to check the total cost to be borne by the company against the budget expectation put up by the stakeholders at the project initiation. By keeping the budget criteria in mind, the project managers can keep tabs on employee costs, cost of resources, additional expenses, etc. This gives an edge to the managers that they can cut short any unintended additional expense.

4. Timeline-based

Time is yet another factor for project success. Every company takes on a project keeping in mind a predetermined time frame. Some extra time is kept to accommodate any mishaps, but the project must be completed within the set time to be declared a success. 

5. Quality-based

The main goal of a project is to deliver a top-notch finished commodity. Thus, the quality of products and services is the next most important parameter for judging a project’s success. To ensure quality, most companies have to walk another extra mile. This is a show of both loyalty and professionalism towards the consumers from the producer’s side.

6. Customer satisfaction-based

Customer satisfaction is a vital project success criterion. It is rather the final say whether a project is a success or failure because it is the customers for whom the products are designed. Thus their satisfaction is the top-most priority. 

7. Stakeholder satisfaction-based

Satisfaction of the clients or stakeholders in the project is the ultimate answer to whether the project is a success. To curate a better product that fits all the client’s objectives, the product managers can take timely feedback from the stakeholders. Then they can incorporate the suggestions in designing better commodities. 

8. Team satisfaction-based

The team working on the project day and night can also provide valuable feedback about the project. Team satisfaction is thus another vital success criterion. Happiness and appreciation of your team for the work done are good indicators that the project is a success. Team members can provide the best project insight, and if your team feels discouraged, then it’s time to motivate them.

9. ROI-based

ROI or return on investment for a project to understand its success is easy. It is done by calculating the profit, by separating project income and actual production cost. If the ROI is as per or beyond expectations, it can be labelled successful.

10. Risks and Issues-based

In undertaking every project, there is a certain amount of risk involved. Be it related to cost, time or reaching goals, there can be risks and issues accrued to all projects. But, a good risk understanding is enough to neutralise this issue and progress your project. Proper risk mitigation can quickly sort out intangible and tangible risks if the issues are highlighted early on. 

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How to Create Effective Success Criteria for Your Project

If you’re wondering how to create the best success criteria, here is a section on it:

Step 1

Planning is the first step, and in this one, the project managers should clearly outline factors like the success criteria name, their measurement techniques, when to measure it, and finally, who will be measuring it.

Step 2

Set up the budget, timeline, client expectations, expected investment, scope, etc. depending on the type of project, whether IT-based or Research-based. 

Step 3

Include all the stakeholders in a meeting. After discussion, taking in their viewpoints, finalise the vital project success criteria. Ensure that these criteria are segregated into external and internal sections.

Best Practices for Defining and Tracking Success Criteria

Here are some of the best practices to define success criteria and track them:

  • Measure the project’s success according to the quality criteria. This makes sure that better quality is a focus of your employees.
  • Engage the employees in timely meetings. Set the meeting time in advance, ensuring the employees are prepared with a success report.
  • While setting criterion goals, discuss and agree to grade the various project attributes. 

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Common Mistakes to Avoid in Success Criteria

Now that you’re aware of the characteristics of good project success criteria, here are a few common mistakes that you can avoid:

  • Project scopes are dynamic, especially in the planning stage. So it is important to be flexible and incorporate the changes in designing the success criteria.
  • Don’t go overboard with cost and time estimation. Most of the time, project managers tend to underestimate the time required to finish a certain task. They also forget to keep aside a reasonable budget for unforeseen circumstances. The best way to neutralise this error is to stick to the bottom-up budget technique.
  • Not defining proper and clear objectives is another mistake to avoid. Set goals and objectives that are easy to understand and achieve in a preset schedule.
  • Resource availability is one more factor which determines the success of any project. Lacking crucial resources in vital times is a major mistake. So, it is best to plan and draft what resources would be required to deliver the best quality products. 

Tools and Techniques for Monitoring and Reporting

Here are the most powerful tools and techniques to measure and monitor a project’s success:

  • Profitability: Understand the cost base of the project, and forecast its profit growth over time.
  • Scheduling: Make a proper schedule to ensure deliverables are on time. Keep tabs on product development with timely cross-checking and analysing.
  • Marginal improvement: Ensure marginal or continual improvement, which means regularly making minute improvements. Summation of these tiny gains finally leads to massive success.


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Project success criteria can be a vital tool that can ensure the success of a project. Working without success criteria is simply like walking blindly to a project without knowing where to start working from and what the end product should look like. Hence, documentation of the success criteria after finishing each baby step is essential, which helps in step-by-step evaluation and feedback of your project.

How to ensure a project is moving in the right direction?

To ensure the success of your project, follow these guidelines: Define an achievable and significant milestone. Keep open a channel of communication between teammates, clients and even consumers. Use management tools for the smooth running of the project.

When to determine the project success criteria?

To secure project success, it is best to design project success criteria at the beginning of the project. This way, your team will be clear about the project expectations, goals and requirements.

Who determines the success criteria of a project?

It is the project manager's duty to design a project's success criteria. Most of the time, the managers discuss the matter with consumers and stakeholders to build these criteria.

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