5 Key Reasons Projects Fail

Wondering why that well-intentioned initiative won't get off the ground? Maybe some of these factors are at play.

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By Stephen Key • Sep 9, 2014 Originally published Sep 9, 2014

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Why do some projects succeed and others fail? That's really the million-dollar question, isn't it? I think about it all the time. Thankfully, there are concrete answers.

If you're frustrated that one of your projects just can't seem to get off the ground, it might be because these practices aren't being followed.

Related: There Is No Magic Formula for Small-Business Success -- Only This

1. Set a timeline.

Every project you start must have an end date. Be realistic about how much time a project will take to accomplish. If you budget too little time, you may end up feeling defeated. If you consistently budget too much your time for projects, well, you'll get a lot less done than you're capable of.

If you are unsure what steps should be taken to achieve your goal and so can't create a realistic timeline, start by asking questions. Only when you have a firm grasp about what needs to be done, can you start setting effective project deadlines.

2. Get everyone on the same page.

You can't do some projects on your own. So assemble a team before starting the project and let every member of the group know what you'll need from them. If people don't understand what's expected of them, they won't be able to deliver.

Go a step further and be sure that members of the team understand the big picture. What's the goal of the project? How will you achieve it? Why is each person's contribution important?

Even before sitting down with the team for a meeting, send an agenda in advance. Never end a meeting with the team without cementing the steps that must be taken next and who's responsible for them.

Related: The Data-Driven Company That Accomplished Very Little

3. Hold weekly meetings.

Setting a timeline and clarifying who is responsible for what isn't enough. You must keep people accountable by regularly checking in with them. I use a project tracker to keep abreast of what everyone is up to. It functions like a scorecard: Everyone is aware of what's getting done and who's doing it.

It's obvious when someone is falling behind. This makes it easy for someone else to step in and volunteer to help out. At our weekly meetings, we review the project tracker and talk about what's working and what isn't. Keep your meetings short and don't veer from the agenda.

4. Key players should make themselves available.

If you want to make sure a project gets done, force everyone who's taking part to be accessible. Do your part by leading through example. Respond to emails and phone calls promptly. When you have so much going on, it's easy for something to slip through the cracks. The easiest way to avoid that is to be accessible and respond promptly,

5. Promote transparency.

Whether the news is good or bad, members of your team will work harder when they feel they're in the know. Do all that you can to encourage the people you work with to take ownership of the project.

Staying on top of many projects isn't easy, but it's possible.

Related: Yes Men: 5 Reasons Why Corporate Projects Fail

Stephen Key

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Co-Founder of inventRight; Author of One Simple Idea Series

Stephen Key is an inventor, IP strategist, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC, a Glenbrook, Nevada-based company that helps inventors design, patent and license their ideas for new products.

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