What is theme a?

Defining value, understanding and measuring success and the identification of critical success factors - Lead by Alexander Budzier, Said Business  School

The key focus of theme A is deriving, through our research, a clear understanding of what represents “value” and “success” for different types of major projects.  The monitoring and measurement of value and success and how delivery progress can be tracked through the project life-cycle using performance drivers is essential. The research will therefore seek to establish best practice in this area with recommendations for how success on major projects could be assessed against appropriate value propositions.

Understanding the value generated by infrastructure, ICT, defence and transformation programme investment requires a sophisticated appreciation of the complex interplay of social, political, economic and legislative forces on the project environment.  This knowledge is essential to informing decisions on ‘short-term’ capital cost and ‘long-term’ whole-life benefits and savings; a difficult task given the challenging environment in which government operates.

In seeking to generate greater value from projects, we should improve the clarity of the value proposition at the outset; expectations of the benefits to be delivered should be realistic and considered in the context of optimism bias.  We should also consider how decision-makers make sense of the decision situation using the multi-faceted concepts of value and success, who is doing the conceptualisation, what their roles are, and how these ideas are turned into performance measures. We can then look to see what drives achievement of the value proposition and what leads to changes that threaten that achievement. In particular, we need to address differences between decision-makers in the ways in which value definitions are used and to make recommendations as to how better understanding and agreement on appropriate definitions can be achieved. Finally, we need to understand who owns benefits, and how they are placed to ensure that they are realised.

Our Research Projects

1. Better Government Projects: understanding the impacts of risks, uncertainty and complexity in the delivery of major government programmes and projects (Manchester University)

2. Performance Of Public Sector Information Systems Projects: The Case Of UK Central Government (Manchester University)

3. The Professionalisation of Project Delivery in the UK Civil Service: a Neo-Institutional Analysis (Manchester University)

4. Behaviour Change To support Technological Transformation (Manchester University)

5. Legacy Infrastructure and Transformative Projects (Manchester University)

Useful Links

Project Success Factors

There has been considerable debate about the key factors that determine project success . . . or failure.  Here are links to some of the most trusted views on these factors based on analysis and research into thousands of projects:

  1. Office of Government Commerce:  Common Causes of Project Failure 


  2.  National Audit Office The Challenges of Major Projects  https://www.nao.org.uk/naoblog/the-challenges-of-major-projects/

  3.  Project Management InstitutePulse of the Profession 2018 (includes section on Top Drivers for Project Success) https://www.pmi.org/learning/thought-leadership/pulse/pulse-of-the-profession-2018

  4.  Association of Project ManagementConditions for Project Success https://www.apm.org.uk/resources/find-a-resource/conditions-for-project-success/

 Click here to see our current members

Alternatively, click here to get involved with Theme A