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Differentiate Between Success Criteria, KPIs Etc In Project

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 5th July 2012

Hi Paul – does this answer the question adequately?  Thanks Paul.   Julie


Success Criteria is what defines the success of the project and is agreed with the stakeholders during the concept stage of the lifecycle and can be changed at any stage via the change control process during the project lifecycle.

Success criteria require quantitative measures against which to judge their success, such as was the project finished on time?  Is the wall built to the correct specification (height and width)?

A success criterion is essential for both the project manager and stakeholders to understand what a successful delivery will look like and it is this that determines – at the handover and close out stage – if the project is a success.

Success Factors – are factors that must be in place to create a successful environment!  A success factor is something in the project environment that will underpin the project and the likelihood of its success – an example would be a contractor with specialist skills.  The success factors that if absent  would cause the project to fail are called critical success factors, i.e. failure to obtain planning permission would be a major blocker and potentially stop the project.

These must be understood at the concept phase of the project in order to mitigate against the risks that this both success factors and critical success factors will have on the project.  It is essential that these are in place to ensure project success.

Key Performance Indicators are measures of success criteria that can be used throughout the project to check the progress to ensure a successful conclusion, i.e. measurement of the rate at which we are laying track or may want to make sure we have a happy team environment (survey perhaps?)

Tracking KPI’s ensures that the project is progressing towards achievement of success criteria and enables corrective action to be taken, as required.