We all know this to be true. If it weren’t true, then most of us would have project success on every project since we’re all pretty good project managers here, right? If you’re reading blogs about PM, then it’s likely you’re either a dedicated project manager or you want to become one…either way you’re on the right track.

No Guarantee

Back to success. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could guarantee success on our projects just by being good at what we do? A good plumber or electrician can pretty much know they’ll eventually achieve success on every project just because they’re very experienced. Some jobs may take more time, but they’ll get it done right eventually because they know their job and they know what works and what doesn’t.

No Guarantee

As project managers, we’re not so lucky. We are one piece of a million-piece puzzle. There are about 50 factors (rough guess) that we could probably list that we know of having a hand in the successful or unsuccessful outcome of a project. And there’s probably a few hundred more that we can’t even fathom and that can depend heavily on the customer and the specific project that have some determination in the overall success of the engagement. How can we possibly manage all of these factors? The answer is, we can’t fully manage them…we can only do our best using sound practices, manage issues as they come up and rely on others to do their jobs properly.

What We Can Do

Here’s what we can do as project managers to help ensure project success on the engagements we manage:

- Practice good customer management and communication

- Delivery on what you say you will – project status reports, status calls, project schedule updates

- Track risks and issues as if you’re life depended on it – these are known potential derailing factors to your project so manage them very carefully. They’ve already been identified so you have no excuses if they arise and devour your project without evasive action on you or your team’s part.

- Follow a PM methodology or hybrid methodology that your organization and your customer understands and accepts. If it’s sounds and followable, then it should help your project run more smoothly. If it’s difficult to follow and manage, then you’ll be fighting a losing battle from Day 1.

- Manage your resources as carefully as you manage the issues and risks. They are the ones executing the work on YOUR project. Keep them happy and engaged….and replace them if they are cancer to the project or the team. You should have that power…if not, speak to your executive management immediately and get that power.


As I said, there are probably 50 factors we could brainstorm and write down that you can be aware of and try to manage and control as you attempt to keep your projects on track. And there are literally hundreds of other, unseen factors that are out there and probably depend on the customer, the project, and the technology…among other things.

The best we can do is practice good, sound, fundamental project management, manage our customer and team well, do what we say we will do and hope for the best. In the long run, you’ll be happy with your performance and hopefully others will see through the issues and recognize a good project management effort for what it was.