Traxidy Project Managers Predict the Future

The Best Ways for Project Managers to Predict Project Success

Picture of By: Steve McBroom, CEO,  Traxidy

By: Steve McBroom, CEO, Traxidy

(Click to follow me on LinkedIn)

What’s so hard about accurately predicting the future? Project Managers predict the future success of their project, all the time. Typically, Project Managers (PMs) have an audience with a number of people who are invested in the work and the output of the project and are keen to know the status and forecast for project success.

The Project Manager is in a unique position to predict the final outcome of the project, each time they lead a project status meeting or present a Project Status report.


Project Managers are regularly asked to communicate the current project status and situation based on a number of factors, including the project scope, planned budget, schedule and benefits. The question, “What is the project status today?” is important. Just as important however, is the question of whether the project will finish successfully based on the current plan. The Project Manager is predicting the outcome of a project, that may be months away.

The Project Manager is in a unique position to predict the final outcome of the project, each time they lead a project status meeting or present a Project Status report. The Project Manager’s ability to use current and historical project information, communicate and collaborate with project team members, along with their knowledge and past experience, are essential factors to enable them to successfully predict the likelihood of future project success.

Sometimes the Project Manager will forecast that a project will not be delivered successfully (if it remains on the track it is on). This implies there is a current or upcoming problem, and a solution needs to be implemented to achieve project success.

Certainty of Success

Respecting the role of the Project Manager, some Project Status Reports ask the PM to give an indication of their ‘certainty of success’, of the final project outcome. The PM reports a subjective number (out of 10 or 100) to communicate their belief in the project to complete successfully, based on the current plan.

If the estimate of the project certainty of success is a low number, it can be used by the Project Manager as a strong flag with their manager or the PMO, to indicate the need for a discussion and a greater understanding of the situation.

Use Real-time Project Information

The most up-to-date project information enables Project Managers to clearly focus on the priority work. Getting good and timely updates and reviewing consistently, ensures you’re working on the right priorities and enables you to stay on plan. Whatever tool(s) you are using to collect project information, as time and information changes, it should be tracking, updating and notifying you of your project priorities.

Realistic Indicators of Project Success

There are a number of realistic and useful key project indicators that Project Managers can use to support their latest prediction for project success. These can include, the current:

  • Number of issues open
  • Number of important or top ranked risks that are open
  • Percentage of time remaining in the project vs. the percentage of work complete
  • Number of overdue action items
  • Number of action items that need to completed this week or beyond
  • Number of changes that are being investigated, or are approved for implementation

Tracking, measuring and managing the key project indicators (above) and work activities with the most up-to-date information, provides the Project Manager with knowledge and insights. This knowledge is needed to support and communicate the most accurate project status and progress, and predict continued project success. It may also signal the need for caution in the future or that the project is in trouble.

If a Project Manager thought they had enough information to predict that a project is not going to stay within the planned scope, budget, schedule, or benefits, they would be expected to speak up.

Sponsors Do Not Enjoy Surprises

If a Project Manager thought they had enough information to predict that a project is not going to stay within the planned scope, budget, schedule, or benefits, they would be expected to speak up. It is always a good idea to share your information-backed prediction and communicate appropriately with peers and your manager, so that they can provide further guidance on how to proceed. To effectively manage stakeholder expectations, present the information to your manager and/or the sponsor, before ‘announcing’ in a project status meeting, so there are no surprises.

Historical Information and Project Insights

Being able to easily review and use the historical updates and information from all aspects of a project, provides for a more informative prediction and assessment of the current situation. More importantly, there is no need to guess, as historical information showing past accomplishments or failures, may help to inform and reinforce the prediction for project success in the future.

It takes time and thought to review the historical work as it has been captured in the project. The Project Manager’s information needs to be in one place and easily accessible in order to be effective. The historical project information won’t help if it’s tied up in paper notebooks or a haphazard system of text message updates with changes or a combination of multiple systems.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

 George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905

The historical data, specifically for each project, provides valuable information that the Project Manager can use to support the prediction of success. For example, your knowledge of the history of certain functional areas or team members consistently missing dates, moving due dates, or providing last-minute heroics of delivery, can be tell-tale signs of trouble ahead if there is still work for them to do. Why would the results be any different in the future? The data could also provide valuable insights about people and teams who consistently deliver ahead of schedule and perform to plan.

Questions Used to Look Forward and Plan

Use historic information to your advantage. It can provide insights and help formulate a prediction for success including:

  • Have all the groups been effective in delivering on time and with quality?
  • Are there areas that are bringing up more risks that you haven’t planned for?
  • Are there more risks becoming apparent based on the current work?
  • Are there more issues and action items now open in the project, than there have been in the past?
  • Has the overall status color of the project been a steady ‘green’ or has it fluctuated multiple times throughout the project?

Project Managers can be more effective by having all the project information (updates, date moves, status changes etc.) in one place with easy access and multiple views of information and visibility to all project priorities.  

Communicate, Collaborate & Earn Trust

Real-time status depends on up-to-date information. An easy way to have current project information, is through communication and collaboration with your team members, sponsor or manager.

Enabling your team members to contribute, and directly update their own project actions, will help build trust, contribute to better relationships and teamwork, and provide you with a more current and accurate set of information. Better and timely information from project team members means more accurate project status reports and predictions of project completion.

Engagement and collaboration is important with both managers and the PMO. The ability to share a real-time status update with a boss or manager at any time, can enhance trust and build confidence in your ability to deliver the project.


The Project Manager’s ability to use real-time and the historical project information, along with their knowledge and experience, and effective communication and collaboration with team members is essential to enable them to better predict the future of project success.

The Traxidy Project Manager App provides the workspace and tools needed for Project Managers to easily track, prioritize, manage and report on project work like Issues, Action Items, Priorities, Risks, Changes, Learnings, and more for greater project success. Learn more here.

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