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Project Management

What Makes a Successful Project? 7 Ways To Ensure a Project’s Success Before You Even Begin

Stephanie Gonzaga
May 15, 2014

Have you ever been struck with a great idea for a project only to realize too late that it was a total bust? It’s a devastating experience that many entrepreneurs, companies, and passionate individuals struggle with.

Project failure can leave you feeling absolutely frustrated. You lose money, waste time, and consume valuable resources. With so much at stake, it’s difficult to get back up on your feet and give a new project another shot.

But before you decide to throw in the towel and head back to your comfort shell, here’s an idea for you: what if you can take extra steps to ensure that your project will succeed? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to work on a project that you know has a good chance of bringing in the results you want?

While it’s impossible to predict 100% a project’s success, you can take certain steps to ensure that a project is heading towards the right direction. With smart preparation and planning, you’d be able to save yourself from scope creep, missed deadlines, lack of support, and other project failures you’re often tormented with.

Here are 7 key factors of a successful project and why you should strive to meet each step, even before you begin managing and launching your next big idea:

1. A validated idea.

Many projects begin with a shiny idea that we assume would grab the hearts of our customers right off the bat. Once that idea begins to dull, we lose enthusiasm, hope, and the will to carry on with the project.

Instead of jumping at the next sparkle that may flit before your eyes, validate if the idea is profitable, valuable to your target customers, and necessary to the business. Test your idea by doing the necessary market and industry research; see if people respond positively to your idea before proposing it to the executives.

2. Solid goals that bring value to the business.

A successful project has solid goals in place that brings value to the business. You know exactly what you should be aiming for and what you need to do to achieve those results.

With clear goals in place that are sure to take the business forward, it becomes a lot easier for you to create and present a strategic project plan that will ultimately win the support of your stakeholders.

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3. Clear objectives and requirements.

Having concrete goals in place is more than just motivation and hopeful dreams. They enable you to visualize, plan, and list down clear objectives and requirements that will clear the path for smart and effective project management.

We’ve talked extensively about having clear objectives as a key factor to PM success, emphasizing how it adds clarity, direction, and keeps the project scope from ballooning out of control. That being said, you’ll want to flesh out your core objectives before getting busy with your project proposals.

4. Concrete project milestones

At this point, you have a working project plan based on your core objectives and the value it can bring for the business. With a sure hand and a clear vision, you can set concrete project milestones and reasonable deadlines that make sense and fit well with your scope.

With milestones in place, it’s now easier to meet deadlines and to deliver the goods on time and on budget. These two are crucial to project management success, so it pays to keep these in mind every step of the way.

5. Flexible action steps that respond to risk

As much as we’d like to prevent our projects for screwing up, anything can happen along the way that could set your project back.

What you can do is to be aware of the possible project management risks you may encounter and have flexible action steps that can effectively respond and address them should they crop up.

6. Every person in your team is in it for the long run.

Team satisfaction. Without it, project closure becomes a distant dream and the entire PM experience leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

For your project to succeed, you need to make sure that every person on the team is in it for the long run. For this to work, both you and your team members must believe in the success of your project and experience quality results from the work that you do, not to mention having a little fun in between.

7. Your stakeholders’ utmost support.

At the heart of every successful project is authentic commitment and support from your stakeholders. But to get them revved up and win their trust, you’ll need to provide them with the information they need to know exactly what this project can do and why it matters.

You can already tell that the six key factors are the steps you need to get to this point. With a validated idea, goals that aim to bring in value, clear objectives and project milestones, flexibility towards risk, and 100% support from your team, you can now stand and propose your project with confidence and faith in its success.

I’ve listed 7 ways you can use to ensure your project’s success from the get go. What else can you do to make your projects start and end with success? Share your ideas in the comments below.

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