SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Dynamic Conditions for Project Success

Project management is an increasingly vital contributor to society and the economy, which generates in excess of £156bn of annual UK GVA and provides employment for around 2 million FTE workers. As part of the UK Government’s COVID-19 economic recovery strategy, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak pledged £5.6bn for accelerated infrastructure projects. However, project professionals are expected to deliver successful outcomes across progressively more complex, dynamic, and novel conditions, when historically as few as 20% of all projects wholly meet their planned objectives, and as little as 10% of large-scale projects are successful.

Introduction

This research aims to explore and examine novel and dynamic conditions for project success by addressing historically high failure rates in complex projects, towards establishing a Project Success Framework (PSF) in order to positively support and guide overall project outcomes.

Prior research has suggested a number of historic internal and external factors, such as the importance of clear objectives, tailoring project selection to organisational strategy, and meeting stakeholder needs that may help to ensure project success. However, despite these prior insights, developing policy and implementing clear guidelines in response to novel, dynamic, and increasingly complex conditions hitherto remains challenging when considering overall project success rates. 

Research Approach

The research will employ an exploratory sequential mixed method. This approach supports the analysis of emergent themes from qualitative data. These themes will then be applied to guide the development of a large-scale quantitative survey for analysis and discussion. The survey will focus on examining challenges in implementing success factors in projects, questioning novel elements, and enriching potential vignettes to illustrate conditions in context. A mixed method approach has been adopted, in that it is particularly adept in uncovering emergent themes, exploring complex ideas, and understanding open issues.

Impact and Outreach

This project will generate a number of findings and outputs that will be useful to project management practitioners and academics alike, including:

  • Uncovering novel project success factors across a backdrop of increasingly complex settings.
  • Developing illustrative insights across arrange of project settings to increase the relatedness of success factors.
  • Developing an organised thematic approach to exploring, understanding, and disseminating success factors.

These findings and outputs will also have a significant impact on project practice by developing a Project Success Framework (PSF):

  • Project Success Framework (PSF) to enable project professionals and project organisations to benchmark their progress across a range of novel and dynamic conditions related to project outcomes.

The research team will disseminate findings amongst practitioners and academic communities through the publications of a research report, conference presentations, and submissions to academic journals.

Further information

If you would like to find out more about the research project, please contact Vasilis Gkogkidis: V.Gkogkidis@sussex.ac.uk

 The research team in alphabetical order:

The project is a collaboration between the Association for Project Management (APM), the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex and the Department of Decision Analytics and Risk (DAR), University of Southampton.