Project Performance and the Project Cycle

Evaluation Document | 1 September 2008

This evaluation seeks to understand why problems of project performance and project quality continue to occur in ADB projects despite a general trend to higher number of projects being rated successful or better over the past few years.

OED conducted this study to better understand why problems of project performance and project quality continue to occur in ADB projects despite a general trend to higher numbers of projects being rated successful or better over the past few years. This evaluation was also a response to the recommendation in the 2006 Annual Evaluation Review that OED identify factors that influence project success and, ultimately, country outcomes.

The evaluation was designed to look at project performance within a structured framework-the sequence referred to as the project cycle. Looking at the problems of project performance and project quality in the context of specific activities undertaken during various stages of the project cycle, as well as the individuals and agencies responsible for undertaking them, shed new light on why about 30% of ADB's project portfolio is rated less than successful during the evaluation phase.

The evaluation was implemented through three distinct steps:

  • a retrospective analysis based on available documentation, consisting of an in-depth review of all 75 project completion reports for projects rated less than successful for the period 2002-2006 inclusive, and a further review of 40 projects rated successful during the same period;
  • a real-time analysis based on questionnaires and interviews with key informants in Indonesia, Philippines, and Sri Lanka, third-party individuals such as consultants, and ADB staff; and
  • a synthesis of the first two steps based on the findings of both analyses and subsequent verification by reference to published data.

This evaluation is one of the many initiatives taken by ADB to improve project performance. The distinctive feature of this report is that the analysis is based on "internal" feedback from operational staff, and is in line with ADB's new emphasis on improved corporate knowledge management for enhanced development effectiveness. Many suggestions ensue directly or indirectly from the analysis in the report. These should be usefully considered for further studies and possible implementation.

Contents 

  • Executive Summary
  • I. Introduction and Background
  • II. Methodology
  • III. Retrospective Analysis - Factors Affecting Project Performance
  • IV. Real-Time Analysis - Overview of the Key Stages in the Project Cycle and their Link to Project Performance
  • V. Summary of Retrospective and Real-Time Analyses
  • VI. Some Key Issues and Recommendations
  • Appendixes
  • Supplementary Appendixes