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The Impact of Planning on Project Success-A Literature Review

  • Humber College and University of Toronto

Abstract and Figures

Project planning is widely thought to be an important contributor to project success. However, does the research affirm its impact and give guidance as to how much effort should be spent planning? The literature in project management, and to a lesser extent in general management, is reviewed to find the reported link between planning and project success. Overall, the literature points to a strong link between planning and project success. A summary of the available studies shows unexpectedly consistent empirical results for the correlation of planning quality and success. The literature appears to be generally consistent showing an average value of R 2 = .33 correlation with efficiency and R 2 = .34 for overall project success. This indicates a significant impact if we compared to the reported approximate 20-33% recommended planning effort.
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The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 1
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review
Project planning is widely thought to be an important contributor to project success.
However, does the research affirm its impact and give guidance as to how much effort should
be spent planning? The literature in project management, and to a lesser extent in general
management, is reviewed to find the reported link between planning and project success.
Overall, the literature points to a strong link between planning and project success. A
summary of the available studies shows unexpectedly consistent empirical results for the
correlation of planning quality and success. The literature appears to be generally consistent
showing an average value of R2 = .33 correlation with efficiency and R2 = .34 for overall
project success. This indicates a significant impact if we compared to the reported
approximate 20-33% recommended planning effort.
Keywords: Project, Planning, Success, Efficiency, Plan
Traditional wisdom is that planning and analysis are important and with planning in a project,
the project will be more successful (Wang and Gibson, 2008; Dvir, Raz and Shenhar, 2003).
Time spent on these activities will reduce risk and increase project success. On the other
hand, inadequate analysis and planning will lead to a failed project (Morris, 1998; Thomas,
Jacques, Adams and Kihneman-Woote, 2008).
If poor planning has led to failed projects (from large to small), then perhaps trillions of
dollars have been lost (Sessions, 2009). But how much is too much? “Light weight” project
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 2
management techniques such as Agile are gaining popularity. Part of their ethos is that less
initial planning is better and an evolutionary process is more efficient. Agile methodologies
seem to imply that up front planning is not useful. There is also a phenomenon in business
called analysis paralysis (Milosevic & Patanakul, 2005). This is when so much analysis takes
place that no actual work is started or it is started much later than ideal.
Knowledge Gap
The fact that a large fraction of the effort in each project is spent on research and analysis
warrants investigation. According to the Project Management Book of Knowledge
(PMBOK® Guide) Fourth Edition (PMI®, 2008), a project manager is expected to perform
42 processes, including 20 planning processes. Therefore, planning processes consist of about
48% of all processes that should be performed by a project manager during the project life
However, practitioners of agile methods would probably disagree with the statement that
more planning is always better (Boehm, 1996; Collyer & Warren, 2009). If 50% of a
project’s time and budget is spent on planning and analysis, is this beneficial to the project or
does it increase project costs and timelines without providing a corresponding benefit?
Choma and Bhat (2010) note that too much time spent planning can be associated with poorly
performing projects. In general, the optimum amount of effort spent planning and its
relationship to success is an area of interest to researchers and practitioners. It is of interest to
researchers as it speaks to the general nature and characteristics of projects and practitioners
as guidance when defining project structure and timelines.
Research Questions
This paper will review the literature written on the subject of the planning phase and its
relationship to project success. The following are the research questions we will examine.
1. Is planning important for perceived project success?
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 3
2. What level of effort expended on the planning phase is most correlated with project
3. What level of effort spent on the planning phase is counterproductive or neutral
towards project success?
Methods and Methodology
This paper takes a post positivist view that a relationship can be found between measures of
project planning and perceived overall project success. Post-positivism falls between
positivism where a completely objective solution can be found to a research question and
phenomenology where all experience is subjective (Trochim, 2006). Because perception and
observation are at least partially based on subjective opinion, results cannot be fully
objective. Some concepts such as project success may not be fully quantifiable and are
impacted by subjective judgment of the participants and sponsors. Therefore the
epistemology approach will be post-positivism. Post-positivism understands that though
positivism cannot tell the whole truth in business research, the insights are none-the-less
The literature in this area is varied but not extensive so an attempt at an exhaustive review
was feasible. Initial investigations involved web searches and extensive Google Scholar
searches. In addition, other sources of information such as Business Sources Complete,
JSTOR and Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) were
investigated. Finally, for all reviewed literature, their references were reviewed and relevant
sources added to the literature review list.
The project management body of research has been described as an immature field by
Blomquist, Hällgren, Nilsson and Söderholm (2010), which may explain the relative lack of
research in this area. When the number of studies directly studying planning effort or
completeness and project success was found to be limited, the search was broadened to
include literature that touched more generally on planning and success. That effort cannot be
described as exhaustive, however.
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 4
In total more than 280 papers and books were reviewed with approximately 50 of those
sources being citied in this paper. The table below lists the journals contributing two or more
papers to this review.
Table 1 - Sources of Articles by Most Cited Journals
Journal Title Number of Papers
International Journal of Project Management 8
Project Management Journal 4
IEEE Software 2
Journal of Management in Engineering 2
Strategic enterprise planning literature, both information systems and general, was not
included in this review as the field is not directly relevant to project success or project
manager success rather to enterprise success. The strategic enterprise planning
literature is concerned with selecting projects to maximize company and enterprise
success, but do not explore how to deliver those projects successfully. Some
exceptions were made to literature that spoke to the general relevance of planning as a
strategic concept.
Literature that addressed project success without some link to planning or planning
activities was not extensively reviewed other than to help define project success.
Similar papers which were published in proceedings and in journals were only
included once. Also, literature which reanalyzed similar data to studies already cited
was not included.
Project Success
Before it is possible discuss the impact of the project planning phase on success, it is useful to
define what a successful project is. Pinto and Slevin, (1988: 67), state “There are few topics
in the field of project management that are so frequently discussed and yet so rarely agreed
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 5
upon as the notion of project success”. However it is worthwhile to select a reasonable
definition from the literature for the purposes of comparing projects based on planning
characteristics. Thomas, Jacques, Adams & Kihneman-Woote (2008: 106) state that
measuring project success in not straightforward: “Examples abound where the original
objectives of the project are not met, but the client was highly satisfied. There are other
examples where the initial project objectives were met, but the client was quite unhappy with
the results.”
Shenhar, Dvir, Levy and Maltz (2001) define four levels of project success:
1. Project efficiency
2. Impact on the customer
3. Business success
4. Preparing for the future
Zwikael and Globerson (2006), however, note that aspects of success are often correlated.
Figure 1: Frequency distribution of technical performance and customer satisfaction, from
Zwikael and Globerson (2006)
Also, Dvir, Raz and Shenhar (2003: 94), state that “all four success-measures (Meeting
planning goals; End-user benefits; Contractor benefits; and Overall project success) are
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 6
highly inter-correlated, implying that projects perceived to be successful are successful for all
their stakeholders.”
Cooke-Davies (2002) makes the point that there is a difference between project success and
project management success. Meeting the cost, scope, timeline requirements may not mean
the project is seen as successful in the long term by the organization. Current terminology
uses project efficiency instead of project management success. Therefore we will refer to:
Project efficiency – meeting cost, time and quality goals
Project success – meeting wider business and enterprise goals
Project Planning
We next need to define what is meant by project planning. The classic definition of planning
is “working out in broad outline the things that need to be done and the methods for doing
them to accomplish the purpose”, (Gulick, 1936). In construction, pre-project planning is
defined as the phase after business planning where a deal is initiated and prior to project
execution, (Gibson & Gebken, 2003).
PMBOK® (PMI, 2008: 46) has a similar definition for the planning phase. “The Planning
Process Group consists of those processes performed to establish the total scope of the effort,
define and refine the objectives, and develop the course of action required to attain those
objectives.” Another definition of planning is “what comes before action”, Shenhar (personal
communication, 2011). However, the simplest definition of the planning phase for the
purposes of this paper will give the greatest flexibility and access to the widest range of
literature. For the purpose of this review, we will define the planning phase as follows:
Planning phase - the phases and associated effort that comes before execution in a project.
Planning effort - the amount of effort in money or work hours expended in planning
Quality of planning - the quality or completeness of components of the planning phase or
the phase overall
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 7
Reasons Not to Plan
Andersen (1996: 89) questions the assumption that project planning is beneficial from a
conceptual standpoint. He asks “How can it be that project planners are able to make a
detailed project plan, when either activities cannot be foreseen or they depend on the
outcomes of earlier activities?” Bart (1993) makes the point that in research and development
(R&D) projects, too much planning can limit creativity.
Collyer, Warren, Hemsley and Stevens (2010: 109) describe examples of failed projects such
as the Australian submarine and the Iridium satellite projects “While useful as a guide,
excessive detail in the early stages of a project may be problematic and misleading in a
dynamic environment.” Collyer and Warren (2009), state that in dynamic environments
creating detailed long-term plans can waste time and resources and lead to false expectations.
Aubrey, Hobbs and Thuillier (2008) note that for one project management office (PMOs)
studied, overly rigorous planning processes resulted in an impediment to rapidity. Flyvbjerg,
Holm, and Buhl (2002) highlight that senior management can choose not to use the estimates
from the planning phase.
Zwikael and Globerson (2006) note that even though there is a high quality of planning in
software and communications organizations, these projects still have low ratings on success.
Chatzoglou and Macaulay (1996) note any extra planning will result in a chain reaction delay
in the next phases of the project. Thomas et. al. (2008) write that for most projects there are
pressures to reduce the time and effort spent on the planning phase. As well Chatzoglou and
Macaulay (1996: 174) touch on why planning is sometimes shortened or eliminated because
managers think “it is better to skip the planning and to start developing the requested system.
However, experience shows that none of the above arguments are valid”.
In general, the literature does not support the conclusion that planning should not be done in
projects although some caveats are highlighted. We therefore report the following:
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 8
Conclusion 1: Pressure exists in the project environment to reduce the time spent
planning rather than increase it.
Planning Variation by Industry
Different industries may require different types of projects and have different project
management needs, Collyer, et al (2010). This may have an impact on the need for planning
and the effect of planning on success.
Nobelius and Trygg (2002), in analyzing front end activities which are largely analogous to
the planning phase, note that the component vary between project types. Through three case
studies in two different companies they also noted the impact of the different activities varies
between project types. For example, business analysis was found to be the number two
priority for a project to build on an existing product line but was not found to be important in
either a research/investigational project or in an incremental change project to an existing
Zwikael (2009) identified the importance the PMBOK® Guide’s nine knowledge areas to
project success and analyzed the impact by industry.
Table 2 - Knowledge areas’ relative importance in each industry type after Zwikael (2009)
Engineering Software Production
ations Services
Integration 1 6 3 3 7 8
Scope 9 9 8 8 8 9
Time 7 1 6 1 1 2
Cost 2 5 9 4 2 5
Quality 6 2 2 2 6 3
resources 3 3 7 9 5 6
Communications 5 7 1 6 9 4
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 9
Risk 4 4 5 7 4 1
Procurement 8 8 4 5 3 7
This shows a marked difference in the types of knowledge areas that impact project success
by industry. The study implies that the importance of planning and which areas of planning
are most important can vary by industry.
Zwikael and Globerson (2006) found that construction and engineering had the highest
quality of planning and success while production and maintenance companies had the lowest
quality of planning and success. The production and maintenance industry is deemed to be
less project focused. The services industry is third in planning and second in success while
software and communications were second in planning and third in success. These last two
results, as pointed out by the authors, can be attributed to either differences in the impact of
planning in each industry or the fact the software and communications industries are
challenging environments. Collyer, Warren, Hemsley and Stevens (2010), in interviews from
10 varied industries, found that approaches to planning varied greatly within those industries.
They report differences in the formality of planning dependent on the dynamism of the
environment. This ranged from less dynamic (construction and defence) to highly dynamic
(film, venture capital and technology).
Conclusion 2: Planning requirements vary in different industries.
In general, little empirical research has been done on the differences in planning between
industries and the overall body of research is not extensive. However, two industries have a
more extensive body of research on planning and success: construction and information
technology. For this reason they will be given special consideration in this review.
Planning in the Construction Industry
Project management has a long history in the construction industry and there have been a
number of studies in the construction project management field on the relationship between
planning and project success: this is a well-studied area in comparison to other industries or
other areas in project management. Hamilton and Gibson (1996) found that an increase in
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 10
preproject planning for construction projects increased the likelihood of a project meeting
financial goals. The top third of projects from a planning completeness perspective had an
82% chance of meeting those goals while only 66% of projects in the lower third did (a
difference of 16%). Similar results are seen for schedule and design goals. Shehu and
Akintoye (2009) found in a study of programme management in the construction industry
that effective planning had the highest criticality index of .870 of all the Critical Success
Factors (CSF) studied.
Gibson, Wang, Cho and Pappas (2006) noted that research results show that effective
preproject planning leads to improved performance in terms of cost, schedule, and
operational characteristics.
Figure 2 - Success Index vs. Preproject Planning Effort Index, after Gibson et al. (2006)
The index is established with a score ranging from one (the lowest level of preproject
planning effort) to five (the highest level). Note that the relationship is linear. In the
construction industry, project success is closely linked to project efficiency so this can apply
to efficiency and success (Collyer et al., 2010). The index does not measure work effort just
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 11
The PDRI is a method to measure project scope definition for completeness. Developed by
the Construction Industry Institute (CII) in 1996, this tool has been widely adopted by various
owners and designers in the building industry, (Gibson & Gebken, 2003). It has gained
acceptance in the facilities and construction industry as a measure of the quality of preproject
planning. The PDRI offers a comprehensive checklist of 64 scope definition elements in a
score sheet format. Undertaking no planning correlates to a PDRI score of 1000 where a
score of 200 or less is good planning, (Wang & Gibson, 2008).
Gibson and Pappas (2003: 37) reported the following results showing a marked difference in
empirical measurements of project success based on the project PDRI score.
Table 3 - Comparison of Projects with PDRI-Building Projects Score Above and Below 200,
after Gibson and Pappas (2003)
PDRI score
Performance <200 >200
Cost 3% below budget 13% above budget
Schedule 3% ahead of schedule 21% behind schedule
Change orders 7% of budget
14% of budget
This study found that “the PDRI score and project success were statistically related; that is, a
low PDRI score (representing a better-defined project scope definition package just prior to
detailed design) correlates to an increased probability for project success.” The following
diagram summarizes the result of this survey and shows a clear relationship between the
PDRI score and project success.
Table 4 - Comparison of Projects with PDRI-Industrial Projects Score Above and Below 200,
after Gibson and Pappas (2003)
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 12
PDRI score
<200 >200
Cost 3% below budget 9% above budget
Schedule 1% ahead of schedule 8% behind schedule
Change orders
6% of budget
8% of budget
Further, they note “Indeed, due to the iterative and often chaotic nature of facilities planning,
many owners face such uncertainty that they skip the entire planning process and move to
project execution, or decide to delegate the preproject planning process entirely to
contractors, often with disastrous results.” (41) Wang and Gibson (2008) found that
preproject planning is identified as having direct impact on the project success (cost and
schedule performance). The following diagram summarizes the result of this survey and
shows a clear relationship between the PDRI score and project success.
Figure 3 - Cost Performance vs. Industrial PDRI Score, after Wang and Gibson (2008)
This graph clearly shows a linear relationship between the quality of planning and the cost
aspect of project success. In reviewing these papers in the construction field, we can note:
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 13
Conclusion 3: The level of planning completeness is positively correlated with project
success in the construction industry.
Planning in the Information Technology Industry
The reports of high failure rates for software projects and some well-known large failed
projects have likely also driven the growth of project management in IT (Sessions, 2009;
Standish Group, 2011). A small number of studies in this area tried to quantify how much
planning should be done for software projects. Posten (1985) states that in software
development projects, testing costs 43% of overall project costs for the projects studied,
whereas planning and requirements accounted for only 6% of effort.
Figure 4 - Project Cost Breakdown, after Posten (1985)
He also presents evidence that the earlier defects are identified in the process, the less they
cost to fix. This has become a tenet of software development projects and points to the
benefit of more effort in the early stages of projects, including the planning stage.
Figure 5 - Relative Cost to Fix a Defect, after Posten (1985)
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 14
This data strongly points to the benefit of doing more planning and requirements analysis in
software development projects. Similarly, Furuyama, Arai and Lio (1994) conducted a study
to measure the effects of stress on software faults. The authors found that 75% of the faults in
software development projects were generated during the design phase of the project. Jones
(1986) also found that the cost of rework is typically over 50% of very large projects and also
that the cost of fixing or reworking software is much smaller (by factors of 50 to 200) in the
earlier phases of the life-cycle than in the later phases.
Müller and Turner (2001) reported a correlation between post-contract planning (detailed
planning after a contract had been signed) and project schedule variance. They report that a
quality of post-contract planning that is at least good is required to meet schedule goals. Also,
Tausworthe (1980) notes the impact of the work breakdown structure (WBS) as an important
planning tool with demonstrated benefits on software project success.
Deephouse, Mukhopadhyay, Goldenson and Kellner (1996) assessed the effectiveness of
software processes on project performance and showed that certain practices, such as project
planning, were consistently associated with success, while other practices studied had little
impact on the project outcomes. Though the study was to focus on process factors and their
relationship to success, planning was found to be the leading predictor of meeting targets
(efficiency) and quality. The dependency for successful planning was .791 for meeting targets
and .228 for quality.
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 15
Planning and Success in the General Project Management
Thomas, et al (2008: 105) state “the most effective team cannot overcome a poor project
plan” and projects started down the wrong path can lead to the most spectacular project
failures. Morris (1998: 5) similarly argued that “The decisions made at the early definition
stages set the strategic framework …. Get it wrong here, and the project will be wrong for a
long time” . Munns and Bjeirmi (1996) state that for a project which is flawed from the start,
successful execution may matter to only to the project team while the wider organization will
see the project as a failure.
Blomquist et al (2010: 11) state “Plans are a cornerstone of any project; consequently,
planning is a dominant activity within a project context.” This is a recurring theme: planning
is inherently important to project success or one could argue project management would not
Pinto and Prescott (1988) found that a schedule or plan had a correlation of 0.47 with project
success, while detailed technical tasks had a correlation of 0.57 and mission definition a
correlation of 0.70. Pinto and Prescott (1990) again found that planning factors dominate
throughout the project lifecycle. Planning was found to have the greatest impact on the
following success factors: “Perceived value of the project” (R2=.35) and “Client satisfaction”
(R2=.39). The coefficient of determination R2 provides a measure of how well future
outcomes are likely to be predicted by a model.
Shenhar (2001) notes better planning is the norm in high and super-high technology projects.
This was found to apply consistently to the deliverables normally produced in the planning
phase. Dvir, and Lechler (2004) found quality of planning had a +.35 impact on R2 for
efficiency and a +.39 impact on R2 for customer satisfaction.
Dvir, Raz and Shenhar (2003), in a rigorous paper noted the correlation between aspects of
the planning phase and project success. The planning procedures effort was found to be less
important to project success than defining functional and technical requirements of the
project. The correlation was .297 for functional requirements and .256 for technical
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 16
requirements. Zwikael and Globerson (2006: 694) noted the following “organizations, which
scored the highest on project success, also obtained the highest score on quality of planning.”
Salomo, Weise and Gemünden (2007) studied the relationship between planning and new
product development projects. They found that project risk management and project planning
had an R2 impact of .28, though the contribution of project planning was not significant. We
consider risk planning part of the planning phase in this review therefore, overall R2 = .28. In
addition, they reported process formality and goal clarity gave a R2 = .33 to success which are
defined in the planning phase.
We can therefore generalize for all industries:
Conclusion 4: Planning is associated with project success; both project efficiency and
overall project success
Planning and Agile/Iterative Methods
Agile methods use a minimum of documentation to facilitate flexibility and responsiveness.
Collyer et al (2010) in interviews with 31 project managers from 10 varied industries, found
that traditional planning had difficulties in dynamic environments. Smits (2006: 8), in a
whitepaper on agile notes the need for the higher level planning and that substantial planning
is completed in daily meetings and “This daily meeting is not often seen as a planning
session, but certainly is.” Similarly, Coram and Bohner (2005: 6) note that agile methods do
require upfront planning. Working with the customer is needed to provide requirements for
the first release. They also note “With so many small tasks, it is argued that agile processes
require more planning… it is a constant task to ensure optimal delivery results”.
Boehm (2002) notes a balance between traditional planning and agile methods is usually
appropriate. He notes there is a “sweet spot” which is dependent on project characteristics
where the effort expended in initial planning pays off in project success. Ceschi, Sillitti, Succi
& De Panfilis (2005) studied a data sample comprising managers of software companies—
10 adopting agile methods and 10 using traditional. They found that managers of agile
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 17
projects were more satisfied with their project planning than managers using traditional
From the literature we can therefore note the following:
Conclusion 5: Dynamic and fast paced environments do not lend themselves to a single
up front planning phase although planning is still required.
How Much to Plan
Surprisingly little research has been done on how much planning should be done in projects.
Daly (1977) states that schedule planning should be 2%, specifications 10% and final design
40% of the total cost. However, now much design is done during execution. Similarly Posten
(1985), states that plans and requirements should be 6% of project cost, product design
should be 16% and detailed design 25%. Empirical guidance on how much time to plan has
become less common over time in the technology literature. Whether this is because this
guidance was found not to be effective, the diversity of technology projects increased or it
simply fell out of favor is not clear
Chatzoglou and Macaulay (1996: 183) outline a rule of thumb for planning effort: The three-
times-programming rule and the lifecycle stage model. “one estimates how long it would take
to program the system and then multiply by three” to get the total. Software testing is
estimated to take roughly an equal amount of effort as development, (Kaner, Falk & Nguyen,
1999). This leaves one third of total effort for the planning phase and other miscellaneous
Nobelius and Trygg (2002) found front-end activities made up a least 20% of the project
time. Similarly, Wideman (2000) states that the typical effort spent in the planning phase in
construction projects is approximately 20% of the total work hours.
Choma and Bhat (2010: 5) found “the projects with the worst results were those that were
missing important planning components”. However, they also found “the projects in this
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 18
sample that took longer in planning had the worst results” (7). Their analysis points to either
that too much planning can be negative to project success or that a planning phase that lasts
too long can be an indicator of a problem project.
Discussion and Conclusions
The literature notes the importance of planning in management at least as far back as early
last century (Gantt, 1910; Gulick, 1936).
Dvir et al. (2003: 94), state “with the advancement in computerized planning tools and the
blooming in project management training, a certain level of planning is done in all projects,
even in those that eventually turn out to be unsuccessful projects. Hence, when a certain level
of planning is done in all types of projects, a significant statistical correlation cannot be found
in the data.” This is a critical point. The question of whether planning is correlated with
project success may be a moot point. The benefits of planning have been confirmed through
the practice of project management as well as through research. It has thus become an
expected part of all projects and project management. It has, as Turner and Müller (2003: 6),
state become a hygiene factor for successful projects, “There is growing evidence that
competence in the traditional areas of the project management body of knowledge are
essential entry tickets to the game of project management, but they do not lead to superior
performance. They are hygiene factors, necessary conditions for project management
performance, but they are not competitive factors for which improved competence leads to
superior project performance.” In general, the research is consistent: the majority of studies,
with a few outliers, state planning is important to project success.
Table 5 – Summary of Positions of Reviewed Literature on Project Planning
Positive Empirical
between Planning
and Success
Planning and
Planning and
Planning and
and Success
Pinto & Prescott (1988)
Tausworthe (1980)
Flyvbjerg et al
Bart (1993)
Choma and
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 19
Pinto & Prescott (1990)
Hamilton & Gibson
Deephouse et al (1996)
Müller & Turner (2001)
Shenhar et al. (2002)
Dvir et al (2003)
Gibson and Pappas
Dvir & Lechler (2004)
Gibson et al. (2006)
Zwikael and Globerson
Salomo et al. (2007)
Wang and Gibson
Choma & Bhat (2010)
Chatzoglou and
Macaulay (1996)
Munns and Bjeirmi
Morris (1998)
Shenhar (2001)
Shenhar et al.
Ceschi (2005)
Smits (2006)
Zwikael &
Globerson (2006)
Thomas et al
Shehu and
Akintoye (2009)
Blomquist et al
Collyer et al.
Anderson (1996)
Boehm (1996)
Zwikael and
Globerson (2006)
Collyer, et al.
Bhat (2010)
From this table, we can see that the preponderance of the literature has found that planning
and the level of completeness of planning are important for project success. From the
literature review alone we can answer the first research question and confirm that for
Question 1: Is planning important for project success? The conclusion is yes. The next table
summarizes the empirical results encountered in the literature review from a high level. A
meta-analysis using weighting was considered as described in Hwang, Windsor and Pryor
(2000) but this was rejected given the varied nature of the source documents: different
industries, different methodologies and different types of cross-functional projects. A high
level meta-analysis reviewing the means was completed instead.
Table 6 – High Level Meta-Analysis Summary of Empirical Results
Empirical Relationship
Normalized to R
Aggregate Efficiency Overall
Pinto and Prescott
Planning found to have the greatest impact on
success factors Perceived value of the project
Client satisfaction (R2=.39)
R2 =.37
=.37 R
Hamilton and
Gibson (1996)
The top third best planned projects had an
82% chance of meeting financial goals while
only 66% of projects in the lower third did.
Similar results were seen in these projects’
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 20
results relating to schedule performance and
design goals met.
Deephouse et al.
The dependency for successful planning was
.791 for meeting targets and .228 for quality.
R2 =.34
Dvir, et, al,(2003)
Meeting the planning goals is correlated .570
to overall project success measures.
Dvir, and Lechler
Quality of planning had a +.35 impact on R
for efficiency and a +.39 impact on R2 for
customer satisfaction.
R2 = .37
Zwikael and
Globerson (2006)
Planning quality correlates as follows:
R = .52 for cost
R = .53 schedule
R= .57 technical performance
R= .51 customer satisfaction
= .27
R2= .28
R2= .32
R2= .26
R2 = .28
Gibson et al. (2006) R
= .42 Correlation between planning
completeness and project success
= .42 R
= .42
Salomo et al.
= .27 between project planning/risk
planning and innovation success
R2 = .33 between goal clarity/process
formality and innovation success
= .27
R2= .33
R2 = .30
= .30
Wang, and Gibson
PDRI score of a building construction project
is related to project cost and schedule success
(R = .475)
= .23 R
= .23
Overall Average
= .33
= .33
= .34
These studies used different methodologies and even different definitions of planning and
success. However, the results appear to be generally consistent and we can report:
Conclusion 6: At a high level, research shows an average value of R2 = .33 correlation
with efficiency and R2 = .34 with success.
If we compare this to the approximately 20-33% effort spent on planning reported by
Nobelius and Trygg (2002) and Wideman (2000), there appears to a clear return on this
investment in terms of project success.
However, whether there is an ideal amount of effort that should be spent planning in a project
is still an area for future investigation.
In summary, we make the following conclusions:
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 21
1. Pressure exists in the project environment to reduce the time spent planning rather
than increase it.
2. Planning requirements vary in different industries.
3. The level of planning completeness is positively correlated with project success in the
construction industry.
4. Planning is associated with project success; both project efficiency and overall project
5. Dynamic and fast paced environments do not lend themselves to a single up front
planning phase although planning is still required.
6. As an approximation, research shows an average value of R2 = .33 correlation with
efficiency and R2 = .35 with success.
We now review the research questions:
1. Is planning important for project success?
This is confirmed by Conclusion 4.
2. What is the impact of the planning phase on project success?
This is answered by conclusion 6.
3. What level of effort expended on the planning phase is most correlated with project
The literature in this area does not appear to be consistent or recent in nature.
It is clear that additional research is warranted.
The Impact of Planning on Project Success – A Literature Review 22
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... This is due to the fact that, construction project is a complex process that involves many stakeholders, long project durations and complex contractual relationships, Oyegoke et al., [17]. In explaining the importance of planning in a project, Pedro [18] opines that planning process in creating a Project plan consists of 48% of all Processes that should be performed by a project manager during the project life cycle. A project plan enables project managers to translate project requirement into work breakdown structure (WBS), task list, Gantt Charts, resource assignment, risk register and results of the nine knowledge areas of planning. ...
... Shehu and Akintoye as cited by Pedro [18] found in a study of program management in the construction that effective planning had the highest critically index of 0.870 of all the critical success factors (CSF) studied. Goatham [8] also argued that different people viewed project success as its affect their interest -that is project success is subjective. ...
... Shenhar et al., [20] define four levels of project success as Project efficiency, impact on the customers, business success and preparing for the future. Also, Dvir et al., as cited by Pedro [18] all four-success measure (meeting planning goals, end -user benefit, contractor benefits, and overall project success) are highly inter -correlated, implying that project perceived to be successful are successful for all their stakeholders. ...
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This study conducted the analysis of changes in building construction project plan on project success during project execution in Akure Metropolis, Ondo state, Nigeria. The total sample size used for the study was 169, however, 165 questionnaires were retrieved and analyzed. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive statistics, the Relative Importance Index (RII), and the hypothesis for the study were tested using Pearson Product moment correlation coefficients which revealed that changes in project plan have a statistically significant effect on project success, with r = -0.560, and p = 0.003. This result shows that there is a negative correlation between project success and effects of changes in the project plan, which implies that as the effects of changes in the project plan increase, which is caused by frequent changes in the project plan, the success of the project tends to diminish. From the findings of the research, the most important criteria for project success is the satisfaction of project stakeholders (RII = 0.965). The top effect of changes in the project plan is an increase in project cost (RII = 0.996). The study showed that having a knowledge –base of previous similar projects (RII = 0.989) is the most important way to mitigate changes in the project plan. The study concludes that any alteration to the changes in the project plan does have effects on the success of the project.
... At this stage, various concepts and methods can be considered which have an influence on the preparation, realization, and exploitation of a building object. It is at this stage when the introduction of the principle of sustainable growth profits during the entire time of object exploitation [1]. The possibility of adaptation of the concept of sustainable growth in the building trade has been verified in numerous research studies and presented on many examples of case studies carried out all over the world [2][3][4][5]. ...
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The planning stage plays a key role in the success of each construction project. It also pertains to projects implementedin the Natura 2000 areas that cover ca. 18% of the total land area in the EU. Permission for the realization of such a project is issued after an analysis of its environmental impact on the Natura 2000 area. An important part of the analysis undertaken as part of a habitat assessment should be the evaluation of proposed material solutions. The research has revealed that habitat assessments in Poland do not fulfill this postulation. The decision-making process is based on the legal qualification criteria, and the fundamental importance in it has a precautionary principle. Practical realization of this principle demonstrates, however, shortcomings in its methodology. The article presents the results of two research stages. In the first stage, the documentation of 292 construction projects was examined in order to prepare the principal components of a checklist. They are correlated to the legal qualification criteria. However, they are more precise and systematic. In the second stage of the research, a survey of 47 experts was performed, and the result of the research is an innovative module of the checklist for qualification of construction projects to the habitat assessment, including questions on materials solutions. The research has proved that introduction of this proposal to the checklist may improve the quality of habitat assessments, increase their trustworthiness and ensure full exploitation of the possibilities which are given by the use of uniform research methods.
... One cannot overemphasize the value of preparation to project success. Serrador (2013) argues that while preparation is not a silver bullet for ensuring automatic project success, there is a link between project planning and project quality. Wang and Gibson (2008) regard conventional wisdom as the connection between planning and performance because planning is the bedrock of all successful projects even from the time of the ancient pyramids. ...
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The study sought to assess the relationship between project planning effort and project success in the construction in industry. The study employed explanatory design of the quantitative approach in conducting the research activity. Management of Glenshire Hills Estate and Incept Architectural Consult were targeted for the study. A stratified sampling technique was employed to select 134 respondents to formed part of the study. Questionnaire was the main data collection instrument used. The data was analysed by using descriptive statistics such as frequencies, percentages, means and standard deviations while Pearson r correlation and multiple regression formed part of the inferential statistics used with the aid of SPSS version 21. The study found that the projects constructed by selected companies were mainly residential buildings with few commercial building, health, educational structures and religious facilities. Also, project planning efforts affect project success positively. Apart from organizational structure, human factors, technical factors and management factors affect project success positively. Moreover, factors inhibiting the contribution of project efforts to project success in the construction industry included; human factors, cost performance baseline, lack of clear goals and objectives among others. The study recommended that players in the construction industry should be critical about the experiences of team members as well as factors to boost the commitment of team members towards project planning process. Also, management of Glen shire Hills Estate and Incept Architectural Consult should provide appropriate project management software for keeping records and project management to project managers. Also, project Team members of the Management of Glenshire Hills Estate and Incept Architectural Consult should be encouraged or motivated to give more priority or equal attention to planning activities as compared to their usual duties. Lastly, the management of Glenshire Hills Estate, G-Hill Estate, and Incept Architectural Consult should have clear and concise goals and objectives for project management.
... Bakker et al (2010) said that the project success is a core project management concept; however, there is no standardized definition of a 'project success' in the project management literature, because the success of a project is perceived differently by different success assessors. Serrador (2013) believes that the success of the project is not only meeting cost, schedule, and performance requirements; rather it requires satisfaction of more complex specifications, such as client satisfaction. In regard to the client satisfaction, Howsawi et al., (2014) have stated that the satisfaction of the client achieved along with end results, have influence on perceived success or failure of the project. ...
This study evaluated the role of effective diversity management practices towards the success of the project in both government and private sector organizations of Pakistan, with the mediating role of project efficiency. Data were collected from 100 respondents working in government/private sector organizations in Pakistan; using questionnaires, based on 5 point likert scale. The results of this study confirmed that there is a positive relation between diversity management practices and project efficiency. Also it is confirmed that the project’s success and efficiency are positively linked with each other and effective diversity management practices in Pakistan do help project managers in leading the projects towards success. The study concluded that in country like Pakistan, having a masculine culture, masculinity acts as a moderator, to strengthen the relationship between project efficiency and project success. Implications and strategies to address the issues on Pakistani context are also discussed.
... An exploration of preparation and project progress was performed by Serrador (2013). Results showed a substantial impact as compared to the revealed presumed 20-33 per cent suggested planning effort. ...
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The primary purpose of this research is to analyze the influence of causal relationships among risk management and project success and the moderating role of management competence. The study's definite viewpoint is the organization of the IT sector in Pakistan. The study approach was quantitative and deductive, with Sekaran (2003) estimating the sample size. The model was checked with a sample size of 227 respondents, including workers from Pakistan's IT industry organizations. Empirical findings suggest that risk management is positively correlated with project performance. Management expertise also positively moderates the relationship between risk management and project performance in a beneficial direction. This study is helpful for project-based organizations to increase the bar and provide workers with means and ways to achieve their project success.
... Radujković and Sjekavic [137] divide success factors into three areas: managers' competencies, methods, management tools, and project management. Serrador [138] confirms the effects of planning on achieving project success in the industry. Further research also confirms the importance of the project manager and their team to the success of the project [39,139]. ...
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Sustainability has recently become a phenomenon; small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly emphasizing the principles of sustainability in their corporate governance. They implement these changes through project management. The purpose of the paper is to determine the critical success factors in project management, as seen by the managers of Czech manufacturing enterprises, related to the most to the successful completion of the projects. We aim to analyze the relation of these success factors to Industry 4.0, Human Resources, and sustainability. We determined the possible interconnectedness of the critical success factors using correlation coefficients. Then, we compared them using the Mann-Whitney test with new corporate management trends. The results show that companies consider Leadership and Experiences, and Employees and Flexibility to be key factors in project management’s success. The most important critical factor for the sustainability of projects focused on Industry 4.0 is the finances that decide the implementation of projects. The benefits of Industry 4.0 concerning sustainability have been identified in projects aimed at implementing new energy sources. In addition to the results obtained, the development of a methodology for evaluating Industry 4.0 projects’ success concerning sustainability may be based on critical success factors in the future.
... Project success factors initially reported by Rubin and Sealing in 1967, have been used since then repeatedly in project management studies (Serrador, 2013). One well-known and applied list of CSF was developed in 1988 (Pinto and Slevin, 1988). ...
The purpose of this study is to investigate the current literature that has explored project success in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector. The literature search was carried out for related articles in three databases: the Web of Science, Scopus and Ebscohost. Using a systematic literature review (SLR) methodology, 75 related articles were sorted out. Furthermore, the methods of frequency and content analysis were used to identify, categorize and arrange critical success factors (CSF) of ICT projects based on their importance, interrelation and cultural regions. The findings in this study revealed that interest in researching success in ICT projects has increased significantly during the last five years. Through reviewing the selected articles, 25 CSF were identified. User participation, stakeholder relationship, project manager emotional intelligence, communication skills, and leadership skills, and top management support in the project emerged as the most important factors for ICT projects. Furthermore, we found that each regional group gives different level of importance to different CSF. This study gives the opportunity to practitioners to control the highest value CSF to increase the success rate of ICT projects carried out in different cultural regions. As the first study of its type, CSF were divided for different cultural regional groups. This paper further explained that certain CSF have different levels of importance in different culture regions. This study suggests that regional culture needs consideration during the evaluation of CSF.
... Moreover, as part of the bureaucratic organization, practices are supposed to be safer and more efficient since they are detailed as precisely as possible. By acting conformably, project managers would reduce unwanted and timeconsuming loops slowing down the planned progress of the project (P Serrador, 2013). This conception contrasts with APM, which is more focused on customer's value, lead-time, and teams' dynamics than on conformity with predefined processes. ...
This thesis, performed in collaboration with the company SOPRA STERIA, proposes the architecture of a system for predicting the performance of a project. To develop such an architecture, we defined what project management maturity is in a rigorous and abstract way. Then we develop a methodology to create models that explain the causal relationship between project management maturity and the operational performance of projects, specifically the predicting cost overrun risks in engineering projects. Our work has the following contributions: - Proposal of a maturity model for project management evaluation more abstract and concise than the existing ones - Application of the proposed model to projects in the specific industrial environment (agile project management). We used that model to develop a methodology to move from classical project management to agile project management. - Choice of a causal modeling technique, in the field of Artificial Intelligence, adapted to the world of project management. - Proposal of a methodology to clarify the link between project management maturity and cost overrun risks in engineering projects. Our proposals were validated on the expertise of consultants and data from large engineering projects. Nevertheless, our methodology and models are general enough to go beyond the strict framework of these sectors.
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Project management is a new area in today's society, where many organizations work on ventures in a variety of fields. Rapid developments in technology, innovation, and patterns are triggered by environmental transformation, prompting people to demand new standards. Because of these dramatic transitions, companies are attempting to anticipate trends in a variety of areas, and as a result, most organizations are focusing on projection. Many project management tools and performance factors are assigned to the successful execution of the project by the PMBOK, and several others are included in the literature. Unfortunately, many businesses are also ignorant of these tools and efficiency indicators, which can be critical to a project's progress. Companies are often faced with the challenge of determining which success indicators are more valuable and adaptable to various programmers. Many businesses are working hard to improve as a result of this critical problem. Organizations in Pakistan, on the other hand, are also in the process of identifying and understanding success factors. Several experiments have been conducted in the field of identifying success indicators and their importance. However, no research has yet been undertaken to look into the impacts of managers' relational intelligence over the performance of a project, given the mediating role of transformational leadership and job satisfaction of a manager.
Despite the importance of client’s role in securing public trust, fairness, and equity in all transactions within the construction market, little is known about the current state of fair trade practices committed by the clients in public construction projects. Therefore, this study proposes an evaluation model for assessing fair practice of public project clients in the Korean construction industry. Twenty-four indicators grouped into six categories were derived as an evaluation framework through literature review, media, and expert interview. A questionnaire survey was conducted to evaluate the performance of fair practice and derive the gap between perceived importance and performance of each indicator. A total of 95 responses was analyzed using gap analysis and importance-performance analysis (IPA) to reveal specific practices with the highest priority for improvement. Lastly, this study proposes a performance evaluation index (PEI) to quantitatively rate the score on fairness of public clients in Korea. This study provides a thorough insight on the forms of unfair practice in the Korean construction industry, of which the results would be especially useful for industry practitioners and policy makers to effectively deal with unfair practices in the construction industry.
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form only given. What does project success mean? When a project is completed on time and within the original budget, is it a success? Or even when it fails to meet these objectives but succeeds in meeting its specified requirements, is it then a successfully completed project? The objective of this work is to develop a universal framework for the assessment of project success to help organizations cope with the above questions. We view project success as a strategic multidimensional concept where project efforts must be aligned with the strategic long-term goals of the organization. We employ in this study a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, and two data sets which included more than 140 projects. Using a project specific approach, our analysis resulted in four distinct success dimensions: (1) project efficiency, (2) impact on the customer, (3) direct business and organizational success, and (4) preparing for the future. These dimensions represent different points of view, different concerns of the organization, and different time horizons. We demonstrate how the relative importance of these dimensions varies with the time passed since project completion, as well as with the project type. Finally, we provide a set of guidelines for project managers and policy makers at the top level
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The current lack of clarity associated with the discipline and the practice of programme management in this no-one-knows-what-happens-next state of the global economy calls for a better understanding, insight and analysis of what is/are critical to successful construction programmes. A total of 119 usable questionnaires were received and analysed, 17 semi-structured interviews were conducted with programme management experts and critical literature review was conducted to establish, ascertain and document the factors that are critical to the success of implementation and the practice of programme management in the UK construction environment. The findings in this research are based on a theoretical and pragmatic synthesis of literature review, questionnaire survey and semi-structured interviews with programme management experts. The study seeks to provide a better understanding, insight and analysis of the factors critical that are critical to the success of any effective construction programme and the way forward.
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Using the Body of Knowledge from the Project Management Institute this study explores the relative impact of the different project management knowledge areas on the Earned Value (EV) measures of Percent Schedule Variance (%sv) and Percent Cost Variance (%cv) in Information Technology (IT) projects. The results show that a planning stage after contract signature has the strongest impact on %sv, whereas Communication Management, Change Management and Human Resource Management have the strongest impact on %cv. Resource management and project planning practices are most influential on a project’s risk status. A formula to calculate Return on Investment (ROI) for project management improvement activities is also developed. It allows focusing project management improvement activities on those knowledge areas that have strongest impact on project performance results and therefore the highest ROI.
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Afield study was conducted to investigate changes in the importance of project critical success factors across four stages in the project life cycle. A total of 408 project managers or project team members cur-rently involved in a project responded to the questionnaire. Ridge regression analysis was performed on the initially derived ten critical success factors, reducing the final number of critical success factors to eight. A stepwise regression was then done on the critical success factors at each of the four stages in the project life cycle. Results indi-cated that the relative importance of several of the criticalfactors change significantly based on life cycle stages.
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Not many authors have attempted to classify projects according to any specific scheme, and those who have tried rarely offered extensive empirical evidence. From a theoretical perspective, a traditional distinction between radical and incremental innovation has often been used in the literature of innovation, and has created the basis for many classical contingency studies. Similar concepts, however, did not become standard in the literature of projects, and it seems that theory development in project management is still in its early years. As a result, most project management literature still assumes that all projects are fundamentally similar and that "one size fits all." The purpose of this exploratory research is to show how different types of projects are managed in different ways, and to explore the domain of traditional contingency theory in the more modern world of projects. This two-step research is using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods and two data sets to suggest a conceptual, two-dimensional construct model for the classification of technical projects and for the investigation of project contingencies. Within this framework, projects are classified into four levels of technological uncertainty, and into three levels of system complexity, according to a hierarchy of systems and subsystems. The study provides two types of implications. For project leadership it shows why and how management should adapt a more project-specific style. For theory development, it offers a collection of insights that seem relevant to the world of projects as temporary organizations, but are, at times, different from classical structural contingency theory paradigms in enduring organizations. While still exploratory in nature, this study attempts to suggest new inroads to the future study of modern project domains.
This study was commissioned by the Federal Facilities Council (FFC) of the National Research Council to identify the elements that should be included in a scope of work for design to help ensure that the resulting facility is one that supports the fulfillment of a federal agency’s program or mission. Its objectives also included identifying key practices for developing effective scopes of work for design involving new construction or major renovation projects and identifying key practices for matching the scope of work with the acquisition strategy, given a range of project delivery systems and contract methods.
A question is posed why software development schedules are often unrealistic in the first place. We look at ways to come closer to meeting the schedules to which we are already committed by using IEEE 830 and some simple rules. The panic compromises of documenting later, skipping reviews, and using nonstandard techniques or tools will usually shift errors from the immediate phase into the testing phase where they are more costly to correct.
Conference Paper
It is long recognized by the industry practitioners that how well preproject planning is conducted has great impact on project outcome. Through industry project data collection and model analysis, this research intends to investigate the relationship between preproject planning and project success. In early stage of the project life cycle, essential project information is collected and crucial decisions are made. It is also at this stage where risks associated with the project are analyzed and the specific project execution approach is defined. To assist with the early planning process, Construction Industry Institute (CII) has developed a scope definition tool, Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI) for industrial and building industry. Since its introduction, PDRI has been widely used by the industry and researchers have been using the PDRI to collect preproject planning information from the industry. Scope definition information as well as project performance are collected and used for this research analysis. This research summarizes preproject planning data collected from 62 industrial projects and 78 building projects, representing approximately $5 billion in total construction cost. Based on the information obtained, preproject planning was identified as having direct impact on the project success (cost and schedule performance). Two techniques were then used to develop models for predicting cost and schedule growth: statistical analysis, and artificial neural networks (ANN). The research results provide a valuable source of information for the industry practitioners that proves better planning in the early stage of the project life cycle have positive impact on the final project outcome.
The importance of preproject planning in the capital facility delivery process and its potential impact on project success has long been recognized by industry practitioners. Nevertheless, the preproject planning process varies significantly throughout the construction industry from one organization to another, and from one business sector to another. This paper will summarize lessons learned from five research projects conducted during the past 14 years regarding the preproject planning process. These research projects were based on data from more than 200 capital projects, representing approximately 8.7 billion U.S. dollars; input from more than 500 industry practitioners; and reviews of the project planning processes used by more than 100 organizations. The positive relationship between thorough preproject planning and enhanced project performance is demonstrated. Findings are presented, including key requirements, processes, and scope definition elements that comprise thorough preproject planning. Similarities and differences in the scope definition of building and industrial projects are outlined. Conclusions of the research effort and recommendations to industry practitioners are provided.