Measuring end-user delight: Is success in project design and delivery enough?

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This dissertation focuses on end-user delight. It can only truly be measured once a project has been finished, handed over (or transferred) to those it was designed for, and experienced for a minimum review period. The latter is considered as one year, but it is reasonable to argue that it is a continuum over the life cycle of the project’s influence. The term ‘project’ is used here, but it should be interpreted in the widest sense including products, change initiatives, events, assets and artefacts. End-user delight is synonymous with satisfaction and, based on meanings for this word, encompasses emotions such as gratification, fulfilment, approval, pleasure, happiness, contentment, agreement, liking, taste, joy, enjoyment, and pride. Project success is intimately connected with end-user delight. It is absurd to think of success being achieved when most end-users are dissatisfied.
It is not that we do not know how to measure post-implementation satisfaction (delight) – we obviously need to survey end-user opinion – it is just that we do not know how to integrate it with the wider perspective of successful pre-implementation (design) and implementation (deliver) processes. Perhaps even more importantly, we do not know whether this can be done generically across all project types or if every project is unique.
Project success when evaluated after a project enters its operational phase is highly important because it determines whether project outcomes are being accepted, adopted and/or purchased, rather than rejected and ignored. It includes end-user reaction, behaviour and usage and can relate to basic criteria like quality and price or broader engagement according to financial, social, ethical and environmental consequences. In simple terms, it comes down to whether the outcome provided what they had expected (needs) and/or hoped for (wants).
The aim in this study is to develop a model for measuring end-user delight in an appropriate and practical format, and then empirically test this model for reliability and validity through statistical analysis of collected data.
Most past studies address the evaluation of project management success in qualitative terms. This research, however, utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods of assessment. The outcomes provide ordinal metrics of end-user delight that combine numerical (quantitative) and categorial qualitative) data for the purpose of comparing and ranking the performance of different projects.
Therefore, the research design is one of literature review, conceptualization of a new model based on an assessment of past attributes, field testing via surveying end-users for each case study, statistical validity and reliability testing, and discussion of how this approach can be used in practice and integrated with other aspects of success pertaining to earlier project phases. The collected data were tested for reliability, confirmatory factor analysis, correlation analysis, and item response theory analysis and results were tabulated, diagrammed, and interpreted.
Seven case studies were analyzed for projects of different scale (small and large) and type (product creation, service provision, system development and post occupancy evaluation) to assess end-user satisfaction. In all cases, the scale adopted in this research provides a core (using a scale of -100 to +100) for end-user delight suitable for comparing and ranking project performance.
Case studies are presented using graphical means for ease of understanding. It is found that the end-user satisfaction (EUS) model is appropriate and provides confidence for use in practice. Generic archetypes of satisfaction are discussed. EUS is related back to a corresponding initial design decision support system (DSS) and four virtuous loops are proposed. Finally, EUS can be integrated into a broader measure of project success, known as i3d3, illustrated using examples of megaprojects in three different countries.
It is concluded that success in project design and delivery is not enough. Measuring end-user delight for projects, regardless of their type, size, location or date, is necessary before any determination of overall project success can be made. EUS stands equally alongside DSS and traditional assessment of project delivery success (PDS) focused on cost, time, scope and risk to judge whether designers achieve their ultimate purpose of satisfying societal needs and wants.
Date of Award17 Feb 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorCraig Langston (Supervisor), Gregory Skulmoski (Supervisor) & Amir Ghanbaripour (Supervisor)

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