Project Management Role Achieving Project Success
Considering the increasing complexity in the business environment, companies are using different
methods and tools, such as project management, to achieve their goals and remain competitive.
Project Management has become very popular in recent years and the definition of project success
is one of its most discussed issues. Even though there are different ways of defining project
success, it’s well known that the quality of project management skills applied play a fundamental
role in achieving the project goals.
This paper aims to critically discuss the role of the project manager in attending critical success
2. Project Success
An often-discussed issue under project management is how to define and measure project success.
According to Anton de Wit (1988) there is a distinction between project management success and
project success. In most of the cases there is correlation between them, however they can be
evaluated in different ways. The measurement of the triangle of cost, time and quality is an
essential tool to evaluate project progress and is related to project management success. On the
other hand, the concept of project success is connected to achieving project strategic goals.
The strategic goals of a project should be aligned with the strategic goals of the organization and
should be defined according to stakeholders’ perspective. This will accomplish the project critical
factors of success (CFS).
The concept of CSF’s has been in discussion for several years. Caralli (2004) defines CSF as the
crucial performance factors that a company needs to accomplish its mission. Although not
necessarily contradictory, there are different definitions in literature depending on the perspective
adopted and the type of project considered. That said, there is a consensus that the concept of
CSF’s is dynamic and that focusing on no more than a few well-discussed CSF´s is important to
achieve adequate focus and clarity on the execution of a given project.
A common practice to ensure that CSF´s are going to be achieved is to define a set of key
performance indicators (KPI) that evaluate project progress towards the strategic goals. The
definition of KPI’s varies according to the critical success factors. The KPI´s are the quantitative
methodology to measure the qualitative factors described by the CSF’s.
KPI’s and CSF’s must be clearly defined and agreed between all stakeholders. They also need to
be prioritized in order to achieve the global business strategic goals of the project. They have to
be clearly identified, achievable, quantifiable and defined in an appropriate manner in order to
adequately fit a specific project.
3. Project Manager Roles in achieving Project Success
Once the goals of the project are clear and well aligned with success criteria, the project manager
will use tools and concepts to support the project management success. The most widespread
reference is PMBOK, which is a group of standard terminology and guidelines for project
The PMBOK® Guide Fifth Edition (PMI, 2013) is based on ten knowledge areas. Each of them
comprises a set of concepts, terms and activities that will drive the project to success. Each area
has specific KPI’s throughout project life cycle. These KPI’s are used to measure project success
and the main role of the project manager role is to assure their achievement.
3.1 Project Scope Management
It is the area that includes the processes to ensure that the project comprises all the work, and only
the work, necessary to reach the project goals. Not only monitoring and controlling the scope, the
project manager is responsible to validate that all deliverables have been accepted by the all
Over the project life cycle, the project manager should play a proactive approach trying to foresee
changes, impacts, risks and deviations in the scope. In this way, the communication and
negotiations with stakeholders in advance will favour a smooth and effective evolution of the
project. An effective scope management approach will guarantee that the sponsor is spending
only the time and the money that is necessary to achieve the goals.
3.2 Project Time Management
This area involves all processes required to manage the completion of the project within the
scheduled deadline. All specifications regarding time duration and tasks interdependencies will
be defined within this area. The manager needs to interact productively with the team to ensure
that all activities considered are tangible and realistically estimated. Another important point is
the manager having a critical view of the interdependencies across all activities, which will result
in a reliable critical path1.
Furthermore, the project manager performs an important role controlling the tasks completion.
Being close to ongoing activities, mainly the critical path tasks, allows him/her to take actions in
advance to prevent unexpected delays.
3.3 Project Cost Management
Cost management is the process of predicting, allocating, and monitoring a project’s expenditures.
It allows organizations to forecast their future expenses, so that they do not exceed the budget.
Cost management is often one of the most important areas for determining the project success
and, therefor, a key area of knowledge for the Project Manager. In order for the project to be
completed within the planned budget, the project manager must identify and interact with the
stakeholders involved in the process of preparation of the feasibility study, technical and
As well as the time management knowledge area, the project manager must perform a careful
control of project expenditures. When the manager has a proactive attitude and can outline risks,
impacts and potential alternatives to stakeholders it generates trust and align expectations of
3.4 Project Quality Management
This area is responsible for ensuring that all the requirements will be achieved and, consequently,
that the end customer will be satisfied. It includes the processes for incorporating the organization
quality policy with respect to project and product quality requirements to meet stakeholders’
The project manager responsibility includes activities to ensure that the quality procedures are
being followed all over the project life cycle. For example, guiding the team to conduct a deep
diagnosis at the beginning of the project raises information regarding the risks of the project and
enables actions to mitigate them.
1 Critical path is the longest series of sequential activities within a project schedule and it defines the project duration.
3.5 Project Human Resource Management
It is responsible for selecting, organizing and preparing the project team to perform well and reach
expectations. Involves all aspects of people management and personal interaction such as
leadership and coaching. This englobes essential project manager attributions.
Managing the project team is intended to track their performance, provide feedbacks, solve
problems, and coordinate possible changes for a more effective outcome. The project manager
must delegate tasks, follow and monitor activities to have a full understanding of what happens
within the project. Therefore, it is possible to anticipate actions and mitigate project delays due
to lack of resources.
Besides that, the project manager is responsible to promote interaction within the team members
to improve project performance.
3.6 Project Communications Management
It includes the activities that ensure that project information is being communicated timely and
appropriately to each stakeholder.
Communication is a core responsibility of the project manager. Activities such as connecting
stakeholders by answering their needs will generate trust and stimulate teamwork and
cooperation, leading to fewer discussions and conflicts.
3.7 Project Risk Management
It includes the processes of planning, identification, analysis, response planning, monitoring and
risk control of a project. Its goal is to maximize exposure to positive events and minimize
exposure to negative events.
The project manager is responsible along with the team to identify which risks impact project
performance, take actions to deal with each one of them and monitor them throughout project life
3.8 Project Procurement Management
It includes the processes necessary to purchase or acquire products, services or results external to
the project team.
The main responsibility of the project manager is to ensure that the suppliers deliverables meet
all project requirements with respect to dimensions of time, cost, quality and scope.
Communication will play an important tool to connect the project team to external suppliers. Not
only to assure the deliverable, but also to maintain a cordial relation between the parts.
Being an external element to the organization procurement management is a potentially
problematic area. Contracts will run the commercial agreements and formal communication will
become addendum to contracts
3.9 Project Stakeholder Management
It includes the processes required to identify the people, groups or organisations that could impact
or be impacted by the project, to analyse their expectations and potential impacts, and to develop
strategies to reduce resistance while increasing their contribution and engagement.
As well as in human resource management knowledge area, the project manager is responsible
for integrating all different stakeholders into the project and the team.
3.10 Project Integration Management
This area is essentially the project manager’s responsibility and is his/her role to ensure that
problems are addressed before they become critical, that changes occur according to the initial
project definitions, and that all involved stakeholders are aware of the implications or changes are
needed to achieve the goals and objectives of the project.
The project manager must ensure that all parts of the project work together. It is an ongoing
process that is performed to guarantee the project runs well from beginning to end.
4. Final considerations
The project manager major role involves essential communication to stakeholders, assuring main
due dates are under control, measuring project progress and others.
Each of the knowledge areas discussed contains overlaps. This reinforces the role of the project
leader to ensure integration between them. Communication and alignment among all stakeholders
are the prime factor in guiding the project towards success.
1 De Wit, A., Measurement of project success, International Journal of Project Management.
2 Caralli, R. The Critical Success Factor Method: Establishing a Foundation for Enterprise
Security Management, (CMU/SEI-2004-TR-010). Pittsburgh, PA: Software Engineering
Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, 2004,
3 Cabanis-Brewin, Jeanette., ; Dinsmore, Paul C. The AMA Handbook of Project
Management (4th Edition). United States of America, AMACOM, 2014
4 A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), Fifth Edition.
Pennsylvania, USA, Project Managmente Institute (PMI), 2013