How to determine if the construction project success or failure

How to determine if the construction project success or failure

How to determine if the construction project  success or failure
How to determine if the construction project  success or failure 

Project success or failure?

Project management aims to plan, organize and control a project so that it can be called a success. But how are we to tell what is meant by success?

There are Three primary objectives to determine if the construction project  success or failure:

The simplest way of defining a project as successful is to show that three primary objectives have been met. These might possibly be called the three graces of project management and they are:
  • delivery or completion on or before the date agreed with the customer
  • completion within the budgeted cost
  • a building that meets the set standards of quality.
All work should be carried out against budgets. For a small builder this is just a list of jobs annotated with their estimated labour and material costs. For larger projects built by some of the bigger contracting companies, budgets will exist not only for jobs, but also for each of the head office departments involved and for other elements of the project and its organization. 

When actual costs exceed their budgets the contractor’s profits are at risk. If the losses are very great, the contractor’s business is at risk. The project might even have to be aborted, or restarted with a fresh contractor. 

A project that costs more than intended might not be a failure. If the contractor can complete the overspent project successfully and stay in business, and if the contract was agreed at a fixed price, then the project purchaser at least should be satisfied. The contractor should, of course, learn from his mistake.

2-Delivery or handover on time:

Time is often the most important objective of all. Time is an irreplaceable resource. A job that has missed its target date is late and that, unfortunately, is that. Costs tend to follow time and grow with time. A project that is finished late usually also overruns its budgets. So, controlling progress against the plan goes a long way towards controlling the costs of a project.


The project should meet all specifications in respect of appearance, safety, reliability and performance.

Balancing the three primary objectives:

The three primary objectives are all interrelated. For example, time is usually related to costs. Project owners sometimes have to decide whether or not more emphasis should be given to one of the objectives, perhaps at the expense of the other two. 

A special word is needed in this context about quality. Many writers (including myself when young) have listed ‘quality’ as one of the three primary objectives of project management. A good, generally accepted definition of quality is that the object should be fit for its intended purpose. Of course every project must be fit for its intended purpose. So, ‘quality’ as such is an objective that is not negotiable: it is an absolute requirement and cannot be part of an objectives balancing exercise. 

However, consider two different building schemes, each for a block of residential apartments. One is a luxury block where the developer expects to receive high rents from rich tenants. The other is a local authority project to provide basic accommodation for families with low or no means of support. One of these developments might have en-suite bathrooms with gold-plated fittings, marble floors, two garage spaces per flat, with the whole set in landscaped grounds. The local authority building will probably display concrete as one of its main features. But each of these projects is intended for a different purpose and, if fit for that purpose when finished, can be called a quality success.

So what we often mean when we write about ‘quality’ in the context of balancing objectives is the level of specification. Here are some examples where balancing decisions must be made:
  • A nuclear power station must above all be reliable and safe. So the quality objective is paramount. 
  • A project to build a stadium for the Olympic Games must be ready in time for the games. So time is the paramount objective.
  • A hospital management group needs to build an extension to act as consulting rooms and waiting areas for outpatients. The budgets are very limited. So the specification must be trimmed so that the cost is as low as possible.
  • A charitable institution, strapped for cash, is housed in a building that has been condemned. So, a project to provide a new building is urgent. Here time and budget share the top priority, with the level of specification coming third.

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