The Relationship between Project Success and Project Efficiency

The Relationship between Project Success and Project Efficiency


A project is created to have a start and a conclusion or end. At the end of the project, the project manager is released from the project or moves onto the next project as Serrador &Turner (2015) discuss. Currently there two competing measures referred to as project efficiency and project success. Project efficiency takes into the account the budget, scope and time, which project management philosophy refers to as the triple constraint or the golden triangle. A majority of the literature on project management identify the project ends when it is delivered to the customer.

Project success takes into account other success factors identified as team satisfaction, impact on the client, business success and preparation of that on the customer, business success and preparation of the future. Project success takes into account if the customer was happy with the delivered product or service or if the deliverables were deemed it unusable. Serrador &Turner (2015) points out that the latest project training book ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)’, uses expanded success measures and no longer just use the triple constraint. Project efficiency measures the success of the project. The success of the investment in the project gets measured by the wider business and enterprise measures. Literature examined the larger impact of a project on the organization. The customer satisfaction, for a long time, is incorporated in project literature but not as a part of the success factors of the project success. More often, researchers measure project success by the impact on the organization rather than by the traditional triple constraint.

Research Question

The research question identified by the authors was to understand the relationship between project efficiency and project success. To date, as identified by Serrador &Turner (2015) there has not been much empirical research to investigate the relationship between project efficiency and project success. To what extent is the project efficiency correlated with the overall project success is the research question the addressed in the paper.

Methods/Research Design

The research methodology assumed a post-positivism method. Post-positivism lies in between positivism and phenomenology where the total experience is subjective. The results from the research cannot be entirely objective. Some concepts of project success are not entirely quantifiable and are impacted by biased conclusions. Post-positivism understands that although positivism cannot tell the whole truth in business research, its insights are still useful.


A survey was created to assist in answering to what extent project efficiency is correlated with the overall success of a project. Survey questions were researched and created with different response ranges. The respondents were asked to judge the success of the project via three categories which consisted of the overall project success rating, the success of the project seen through the eyes of the sponsor, stakeholders, project members, the client and end users. The last category was the project performance about the project efficiency or triangle the included scope, time and cost. Another important aspect survey was to understand the industry, country, and if the project was national or international. These were demographics necessary to collect for the project. Each person was to share a project that was unsuccessful and one that went well. The questions design created with scales in mind for a particular style of question. For example, 7 point scales for numerical ranges in a question, and 5-point scales used for subjective ratings. The last important aspect was to get a dichotomy of different users to respond. The Project Management Institute’s community of practice group, Linkedin groups and contacts and personal connections with the authors chosen for the target responders. All research questions were designed to understand the respondents perceived project success.

Results and Conclusion

Data was collected to for 12 weeks after the survey was sent and posted, which yielded 865 responses. Responses came in from 60 different countries. The United States had a 36% response rate which was the highest out all counties. The data results show that overall project success is much wider concept than the traditional triple constraint of project efficiency. The survey returned information on 1,386 projects and project efficacy makes up 60% correlated with project success. The 60% success rate confirms that project efficiency is very significant in the success of providing a successful project. For a long time, it has been suggested that project success includes more than the project efficiency, but the data produced from the survey, as Serrador &Turner (2015) points out has been measured and analyzed using the data from this survey. The survey results confirm that project managers need to look beyond just completing a project on time and within budget. The survey also confirms that project managers need to include the project efficiency goals if they want to deliver a project that can deliver the highest success rate to the customers and stakeholders.


Serrador, P., & Turner, R. (2015). The relationship between project success and project efficiency. Project Management Journal, 46(1), 30-39. doi:10.1002/pmj.21468

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