The definition of your desired business outcomes is the 'holy grail 'of projects that every manager needs to understand.

Projects are complex.

Getting to the end and delivering business value from a project is a significant challenge.

There is one step you can take that single-handedly increases the value of each and every one of your projects — that increases business satisfaction with the results and simplifies some elements of project delivery.

Utopia? Fantasy?

We don’t think so. And we’ve proved it.

Back to basics

When we set out to discover why projects fail to deliver the business value expected — often staggering to finish delivering minimized results — we went back to basics to ask

“Why are we doing projects at all?”

You certainly don’t do projects to deliver something ‘on time and budget’ as this is merely a measure of project delivery efficiency, i.e., how well you use the time/cost resources allocated to the project. It is not a measure of success.

You certainly don’t do projects to enable you to control project costs, as many senior management groups seem to believe given their only focus seems to be on managing the overall project costs.

You don’t seem to do projects to deliver to expectations as “managing the business’s expectations (down) to what is going be delivered” is often cited as a key stakeholder control mechanism.

All of this seems to highlight a real problem — that projects were being justified, run, managed and measured on the wrong dimensions.

You do projects to realize value in the business

So, back to our question about why you do projects. The answer is so simple that it is too often overlooked, viz:

You are here (the current state) and you believe that if you move to there (a future state) this will be more beneficial (valuable) than doing nothing (staying here).

If you don’t reap the benefits and value then you are NOT better off.

Indeed, you are worse off. If you undertake the project and having spent the time and money on the project with all of its attendant effort, disruption and angst, you don't get to where you want to be, then you have wasted your time, money and missed out on better investment opportunities.

You, therefore, commission and invest in a project to

  • move you from your current to a future state (defined as 'desired business outcomes')
  • so that you can realize the associated benefits and value!

You do projects to realize value in the business.

Let’s remember that.

The key to this value is the definition, targeting, protection and delivery of your desired business outcomes. We call these, "The Holy Grail for projects".

What is the ‘holy grail’ for projects?

‘Desired business outcomes’ (the new business end states) are clear, detailed, measurable definitions of where you want to be in the future, what ‘success’ will look like.

These outcomes are what you truly desire from your projects. 

Many approaches talk of 'outcomes' but define them differently. Here we define them in clear, specific, measurable terms so that they change the project's goals, trajectory and measures of success. Their impact is massive — which is why we call them "The Holy Grail of projects." 

Find out more:

Download the E-book

"In Search of the Holy Grail for Projects"

Topics: Project Success, Value Delivery, Project Controls, Value Equation, Outcomes Thinking, Path Dependency

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Nov 2013) as "Business Outcomes — The Holy Grail For Projects

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections