Think of the last unfinished project you decided to throw into the back burner. Chances are that you gave up working on it because it cost you two very crucial things: Time and money.

Projects usually start off well with goals and an admirable vision. Yet, the majority never see the light of day due to project failure and mismanagement.

On the broader scale, the project failure rate at the industry level is just as frightening. Based on recent reports on project management failure throughout several tech industries, you’ve got large IT projects going down the drain due to exceeding budgets, overtime, and unimpressive results to show; a striking lack of confidence and faith in a project’s success; and about 43% to 70% of projects being dropped within the last 12 months.

What these numbers are alluding to is the importance of staying on time and within budget for a project to even have a chance at being successful.

Spending hundreds of dollars and large portions of your time on a project that isn’t delivering results will always leave you wanting to trash the whole thing and start anew.

Moreover, if you have clients or stakeholders on the line, project failure can affect you and your business. It’s a risk that you may not be willing to take.

How do you manage and complete a project while staying on time and on budget? What can you do to prevent these issues from affecting your project?

1. Make SMART Project Goals and Objectives.

image_smart
The need for clear goals and objectives has been reiterated over and over, yet many projects fail because of lack of clarity and a strong grasp of the project scope.

Without a clear direction, the project can go in different directions and cause you to spend more time and money just to get back on track.

Create and write down your project goals and objectives from Day 1. Keep them SMART: S-pecific, M-easurable, A-ttainable, R-elevant, and T-ime-bound. This way, your project goals are clear, realistic, feasible, and designed to bring in the results you want on schedule.

2. Assemble a Team Who Believes in Your Project.

image_team
Research shows that the biggest barriers to project management success is actually rooted on people factors—changing mindsets, disagreements, miscommunication, etc.

With this in mind, your project team should comprise of people who truly believe in your project and are dedicated to seeing and making it succeed, even if it means reminding you of your own tendencies to sway from the original plan.

The variety of ideas and suggestions are inevitable and it pays to be open-minded. But, at the end of the day, it all boils down to how reliable and dedicated each member is to the core project goals.

3. Have the Best Skills for the Project.

image_best_skills
Having a product designer, art director, and marketing specialist sounds professional and impressive, but their roles and responsibilities must be clear, necessary, and crucial for the project.

If and when you do decide to bring new people in, take extra steps to screen and select people with the right skills for each major component of the project.

4. Make a Public Announcement.

image_announce
Anyone can start and end a project when no one holds them accountable for it. But, when you have a dozen or more people waiting to see what your project has to offer them, you are pressured to deliver as promised.

Give yourself that push by going public with your project. Share it with your audience, talk to your friends and colleagues about it, or announce it to your subscribers. The urgency to show up can help you focus and work hard towards finishing your project.

5. Set a Realistic Project Schedule.

image_time
The last thing you need are missed deadlines and failed expectations. You don’t want to pressure your project team with unrealistic deadlines nor do you want to disappoint your clients/customers by failing to deliver on schedule.

The best way to prevent this is to set realistic deadlines and delivery dates that are in-tune with the project road map. You now have the opportunity and confidence to create, refine, and present a great product.

6. Consistent communication.

image_communicate
When new features are released, customer feedback factor into development, and new ideas are pitched in regularly, consistent communication becomes even more crucial to a project’s success.

More importantly, you and your team members should be comfortable enough to voice any concern, ask questions, and suggest solutions. Holding regular monthly or bi-monthly project meetings is a good way to establish this openness.

7. A project management tool that doesn’t scare your team away.

image_scare
It’s tempting to try the latest and snazziest PM tool in the market, but if your team continues to use email to send files and project details despite investing in it, it may not be working out for everyone.

Choose a project management tool that fits with your workflow, industry, and company culture. Go for what is simple yet flexible enough that you can ride over the learning curve seamlessly.

Above all, it should allow you to focus on working on your project, rather than on learning how to make your project fit into it.

Staying On Time and On Budget Can Be Done

Despite the challenges of managing complex projects, sticking to the timeline and budget can be done with the right people, tools, and methods in place. These 7 key factors can help you to finish your project while preventing common problems and mishaps from happening.

Once you’ve developed an effective project management system that brings in the best results, you’ll have less premature projects to burn this time around.

Think of the last project you managed to complete successfully. What contributed to its success? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Author:

Stef Gonzaga is all about creating great content for a better Web. She's a blogger for the project scheduling software, TeamGantt, where she writes about productivity, project management, and the latest apps. Connect with Stef on Twitter @stefgonzaga and check out her website.