Project’s Hierarchy of Needs

Project’s hierarchy of needs defines what is needed to happen for teams to achieve success in their projects. 

Project’s theory of needs is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs.

It is common knowledge that most projects finish late or fail altogether. In fact, around 55% of all IT projects either finish late or never finish at all.

This is an amazing statistic. Think of it this way, even with all the advances we have accomplished in technology and work software, most of our projects still fail!

To improve the project’s chance of success, it is important to understand the needs of people working on the project.

Without this understanding, it is impossible to plan and manage projects right and improve the success rate of projects.  

Project’s hierarchy of needs is based on years of experience managing projects small and large with teams local and remote. 

It covers how the successful projects are planned, managed, and executed compared to projects that fail.

The most important element of any project is the individuals that are working on the project.

When the individual’s needs in the project are met, the team’s needs are better met and it becomes whole and more efficient.

It is paramount importance that the needs of the team are well understood and taken care off before the project starts and during the project life cycle. There is no project without a team.

I have explained this theory from bottom up in this article to help the reader better follow the needs of the project and its team from the start to the finish.

Project’s Hierarchy of needs

The picture below shows project’s hierarchy of needs which is based on Maslow’s diagram and is adapted for teams and projects.

Project's Hierarchy of needs

Purpose Needs 

Before a project starts it needs a clear purpose. The management needs to provide a precise definition of the project’s goals and requirement.

What is the target that the team is marching too? How is success defined? How the product or service should look like when it is presented to the customer? What are the pains the product or service is designed to remedy? Who is the target customer? 

When the above questions are answered, the team has a laser focus on what they need to achieve to proclaim the project a success.

Resource Needs

Every project has needs and requires resources, be it the human resource, equipment, a place to meet and work and travel expenses etc.

Without these resources, the project can’t start nor can it finish successfully.

Experience has shown that the projects which are not properly staffed and not enough resources allocated to them are bound to finish late or fail.

After the project goals are defined and before the project can start, the project manager’s first job is to come up with a resource plan for the duration of the project. 

Teamwork needs

A group of people gathered together working on a project is not a team until they collaborate, support each other and value each member’s contribution.

Teamwork and collaboration are essential ingredients for the success of any project.

Teams that collaborate and help each other out have a much higher chance of success than those who don’t. It is absolutely true that project’s success is compounded when team members collaborate.

Individuals need to have a sense of belonging to be productive. This is only possible when the team works in a nurturing, collaborative, and safe environment at work.

Team Pride needs

Human’s are most efficient at their jobs when they like their jobs and have a pride and purpose in what they do. 

Team satisfaction is drawn from individual team members satisfaction. When every member of the team feels pride in what the do and what they accomplish, the team is at its peak performance.

For teams to be proud of they are working on, they need to believe that the product or service they are working on has great value.

To enforce team pride the project’s and business objectives should match. It is very hard for a team to feel proud and secure when the business backing is lacking and the team feels the project’s future is not assured.   



The ultimate goal of the project is to provide value for the company, the society or a group or people who will use the product or service. Success has a higher chance of happening when all the needs mentioned before in the Projects’ s Hierarchy of needs are met.

The success could be measured by a great product shipped, the money made for the company or satisfaction of helping people to overcome limitations or problems.

For the project to succeed, it needs to finish on time on budget. Otherwise, the success is only partial even if the product or service is shipped. 

Final Thoughts

The project’s hierarchy of needs is a work in progress. Due to the rapid acceptance of remote working by companies large and small, this theory needs to be updated periodically to adjust to changes happening in the workplace.

I am looking forward to hearing reader’s feedback regarding this subject. I will update this article as we gain more insight into how to satisfy projects and teams need to ensure project success.






David Robins


David Robins is the founder and CEO of Binfire. David studied at both Cornell and MIT, and was the Director of Software Engineering at Polaroid for 11 years.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.