Skip to main content

How to Measure the Success of a Project Workstream

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Definition of Workstream

A workstream is one of multiple sub-teams within a single project whose objective is to reach resolutions to very specific issues that are needed in order to complete a project. The success of a project is dependent on the success of specific workstreams.

How Do You Measure the Success of a Project Workstream?

The criteria for measuring or evaluating the success of a project workstream varies from project to project. The criteria should be defined at the start of each project’s workstream effort with consensus amongst all participants and should be used as a blueprint for that workstream’s success. The participants should all be on the same page as to what the meaning of success is.

Workstreams are sub-teams who need to reach resolutions to very specific issues within a project

Workstreams are sub-teams who need to reach resolutions to very specific issues within a project

Define success metrics

It's important for work-stream participants (aka team members) to all be on the same page in regards to the meaning of deliverables success, procedural success, and resource success.

  • Deliverables success – It is important to outline the tangible work products the workstream will deliver to accomplish its objectives. These objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) where possible. Define the Key Success Factors that need to be fulfilled in order to realize the deliverables. The deliverables need to adhere to a specified quality and to ensure this, the project work stream needs to set up a quality assurance project plan.
  • Procedural success – The work-stream needs to delineate how the project will be organized, structured and managed, including timeliness, cost control, the project plan, and project management standards. It is important to state what is in scope and what is out of scope of work.
  • Resource success – The work-stream also needs to outline its resource utilization, specifically for staff and material resources. What is the set out resource capacity (% of hours available per month)? What is the required level of skills and experience amongst work-stream staff? What is the overtime rate?

How to evaluating the defined success criteria

Traditionally, project management literature dealing with defining success of project workstreams was usually limited to meeting cost, schedule, and scope objectives - was the project finished within budget, on time, and according to the specifications? This however only provides part of the picture. It does not address the other variables from which lessons can be learned for future workstreams. Just because a project came in on time and budget does not mean it is a success. The deliverables may be of poor quality, and there may be dozens of outstanding issues. A much broader view is required.

Final stage of a project workstream

As a project workstream comes to an end, the success metrics that were defined at the start should be used as a benchmark for evaluating the success of the project.

Good questions to ask at the end of a project are:

  • Did the project workstream deliver the outlined deliverables according to schedule, or were they delivered behind or ahead of schedule?
  • How did the project workstream perform against the budget?
  • Did the project workstream spend more or less than was estimated for its resource allocation?
  • Did the delivery quality meet specified measurements?
Scroll to Continue

Successes and failures should be evaluated and documented as ‘lessons learned’ in order to be able to repeat successes during future projects and to learn from shortcomings. As a project workstream’s evaluation is completed, the participants should be able to define “how successful were the project workstreams?”


sathis kumar on July 01, 2015:

Each time each project

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 25, 2015:

Each time, we finish a project, we always write down lessons learned in the reports. Often, when we read reports, these are the key points we keep in mind.

Anna (author) from New York, NY on March 17, 2012:

Thanks so much, tsmog. You're right, this can apply to any industry and that's the beauty of it. And 'lessons learned' are important in any project so one can learn from both successes and failures and apply it to future projects. Thank you for your valuable comment.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on March 08, 2012:

I agree on the 'lessons learned' statement. Very powerful and agreeing with you the emphasis should be placed on learned. I work in the automotive tire/repair industry. We call it workflow in the shop environment. Great job of explaining this theory and its high points. What is cool about the discussion you presented is it can be used with any business or industry. From the world of entertainment to the sandwich shop to the USMC 1st FSSG moving out on a mission in the south pacific somewhere to a presidential election.

Related Articles