Project Success, Product Failure: Customers Are Not Getting What they Want
Not only must a project be delivered within the three constraints, but it is also important to ensure that the project outcomes are aligned with the customer’s expectations in order to deliver the project goals.
Sometimes, customers’ expectations and the final product can become misaligned during a project’s lifecycle. This article outlines a framework for identifying and managing these misalignments.
Definition of product success and project failure
PMI defines a project as “A temporary group activity designed to produce an unique product, service, or result”. Another way to put it, a project’s primary goal is to deliver a product/service that has certain features in order to provide specific benefits for the customer. Table 1.
Table 1 Project deliver benefits
Project ,Ui Product ,Ui Features ,Ui Benefit
A project failure is the failure to deliver a product/service within the agreed time, cost, and performance criteria. A product failure is the failure to design and manufacture a product that delivers the benefits expected by the customer.
Management of gaps to ensure alignment of project results
Take a look at the five levels of project performance gaps identified by Deane and colleagues1, Table 2. Each gap can lead to an “Ineffective project result”, i.e., a project that is not meeting its potential goals. Customers not getting what they want. These gaps can be closed to ensure a better project outcome.
Table 2 Performance gaps1
Actual project outcome required by the customerGap1Desired outcome as described by customerGap2Desired outcome as perceived and developed by project teamGap3Specific plan created by project teamGap4Actual outcome delivered to customerGap5Project outcome perceived by customerIn Table 3, we present a framework that addresses these performance gaps. To address the gap between customer needs and actual project outcomes, we added a sixth gap. We identify the gaps and offer suggestions on how to close them.
Table 3: Framework for managing performance gaps
GapsMain RoleManaging GapsTypes of FailureGap 0What customer neededvs.What customer thinks is neededCustomer
Customers must fully understand the benefits they desire to receive
Talk to experts. Customer realizes that the product they originally thought of may not be the best for delivering the benefits they need.
Product FailureCustomer fails discover what is really requiredGap 1What she thought she neededvs. What was communicatedCustomer
Customer must clearly communicate the benefits they are seeking
The customer should ensure that the project manager understands
Product FailureCustomer fails communicate what they wantGap2What was communicatedvs. What was perceivedCustomer
The product owner knows the benefits that the user needs
The product owner evaluates and understands the product and the features suggested by customers
The product owner and the customer agree to create a product that delivers the benefits the customer wants
Product FailureProduct owner fails to understand what the customer wantsGap 3What was perceivedvs.What is planned/designedCustomer
Product owner and team members need to create a plan to deliver product as desired by customer and product owner.
Discuss the design with the project manager and the customer
Project FailureFailure of the project team to interpret what the project owner wants into a designGap 4What was planned/designedvs.What was deliveredCustomer
The project team reviews whether the deliverables are as per design