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Success criteria (acceptance criteria)


A definition in measurable terms of what must be done for the project to be acceptable to the client, stakeholders and end-users who will be affected by the project.

Fitness for purpose checklist:

  • Are all criteria measurable?
  • Is each criterion individually realistic?
  • Are the criteria as a group realistic? For example, high quality, early delivery and low cost may have conflicting goals.
  • Do the success criteria form a complete list of criteria to define what will constitute an outcome that is acceptable to the customer?
  • Suggested content:
  • Target dates
  • Major functions
  • Appearance
  • Personnel level required to use/operate a deliverable
  • Performance levels
  • Capacity
  • Accuracy
  • Availability
  • Reliability
  • (Mean/maximum time to repair, mean time between failures)
  • Development cost
  • Running costs
  • Security
  • Ease of use
  • Timings

Source information:

  • Success Criteria are derived from:
  • The business case
  • Customer's quality expectations.  

Success should be judged in relation to objective and measurable criteria established at or soon after the project's inception. The management of the project and equally that of stakeholder expectations will form the foundation of the project"s success.

The use of Key Performance Indicators will provide the project with objective criteria against which it can be measured. For example, as part of the work undertaken by Achieving Excellence and the Government Construction Clients Panel (GCCP) ten headline KPIs and eleven cultural indicators have been developed for use by project teams.

 Headline KPIs  Cultural Indicators
 1. Client satisfaction - product
  1. Competency analysis
 2. Client satisfaction - service   2. Teambuilding
 3. Defects
 3. Mutual learning
 4. Predictability - cost   4. Safety management
 5. Predictability - time   5. Environmental perspective
 6. Construction - time   6. Training
 7. Construction - cost
  7. Design & construction risk
 8. Profitability  8. Operation & decommission risk
 9. Productivity
  9. Political & economic risk
 10. Safety   10. Legal & contractual risk
   11. Financing risk

Further Information:

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 (published for OGC by TSO)

Achieving Excellence