How To Deliver Projects On Time & Within Budget


Amy Wilde

Senior editor

Parul Saxena

Chief editor

Last updated: November 9, 2020

Whether it is to introduce a new product in the market or promote services, businesses undertake thousands of projects around the year. Unfortunately, not all of them are completed successfully. Why? Well, there are many reasons. Some fail to cater to the initial success standards; some have limited resources, whereas others fail to recognize the catch of the project. According to a survey, the average failure rate of a project depends on the following causes,

  • Change in the organization’s priorities
  • The shift in project objectives
  • Inaccurate requirement gatherings
  • Poor communication
  • Inadequate vision

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It is estimated that only one-third of the IT projects are successful. Success here means that the projects fully meet the given deadlines, budget, and functional requirements.

As we step into 2020, we must take note that the project management field is witnessing a rapid change. Organizations leveraging new tools, techniques, and frameworks are undoing the long-held beliefs. But to prepare for these changes, it is crucial to arm yourself with the following high-level project management tips to deliver projects on time and within budget.

Key to Deliver Projects on Time and Within Budget

1. Define Project Goals and Objectives

The very first step to begin with any project is to define its goals and objectives. It helps to determine the outcome of the project and the steps you need to take to achieve it. Poorly outlined goals and objectives lead to project overruns, missed milestones, and unhappy clients. So, goals and objectives must be specified along with the statement of purpose and also measurable.

To define goals, ask WHAT? That is, what is the aim of your project? For instance, while developing a physician’s website, the goal should be to convince the patients that they will no longer wait than 1 hour to see the physician and get the best treatment.

While defining objectives refer to asking HOW? That is, every goal is tied to one or more objectives. Thus, it defines how to reach the goal. When you say that patients will no longer wait than 1 hour to meet the physician, analyze how you will do it – taking personnel requirements, pre-scheduling their appointment, or else ways.

When you have clearly stated goals and objectives at the forefront of your project, you can rest assured that your team and project are on the same page.

2. Set Realistic Deadlines

Deadlines are inevitable to help you achieve your goals. This doesn’t mean that simply setting the deadlines will help you through the success of your project. They must be set strategically so that it helps you move closer to your goals. You can set daily, weekly, monthly, or bi-monthly deadlines depending on your requirements. Achieving these deadlines will let you experience small wins along the way; thus, motivating you to do more.

To deliver projects on time and within budget, it is crucial to set realistic deadlines. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Break down the project into small chunks. It will provide you with a list of all the steps that you need to move towards project completion. Then, you can figure out which steps will take how much time.
  • Analyze the reasons why your project got delayed in the past. Assuming that the same would even happen this time will help you set the deadlines appropriately.
  • Determine the other tasks that will be going simultaneously with the project. Will that require a day, week, or more? Take this into account, as well.
  • While you set deadlines for your team members, ensure you check with them on their schedules so that nothing gets delayed.
  • Always assume that you will have some last-minute issues. So, keep two to three days as a buffer included in the deadline. Well, wrapping up early always comes with benefits but running behind the deadline costs hard.

3. Divide Project Plan

Dividing the project into tasks eliminates late deliverables and over-budget projects. So, it is essential to have an obvious breakdown of your project plan. You can prepare a checklist that will help you determine if you miss anything. Instead of seeing the outcome of work as data in the database, using a chart to define the tasks can help make informed decisions. Moreover, it places the work in the right context and makes it easier for you to spot the things that won’t work.

To divide your project plan, first determine the individual capacity vs. project capacity. The more people you add to one project, the less effective may be the result. So, make a list of people available, analyze their capacity to add multiple tasks, and make a schedule based on that. This will lead to an increase in the quality of outcomes.

4. Build a Dedicated Project Team

Without a solid team to fall back on, you may run the risk of project failure or disappointing clients. Hence, the project team must be made of people with different skill sets, experiences, and perceptions. As they would most likely need to work together to accomplish the goal, the project manager has to engage and encourage everyone.

As a dedicated team plays a significant role to deliver projects on time and within budget, you must look to it that the people in your team are trustworthy, interested to take up challenges, skilled to accomplish the tasks, have a diverse set of skills and mentoring attitude, and are strong communicators. The following also helps you guide your team to the success pathway:

  • Know the competencies of each team member
  • Create an environment where they can ask questions, make comments, and give suggestions
  • Encourage team players to share their different points of view
  • Try to understand your team
  • Be clear and specific in the importance, responsibilities, tasks, and deadlines given to each individual

5. Train Early and Often

To ensure you deliver projects on time and within budget, it is vital to invest in proper training. Though many organizations consider it as an upfront cost, it can have a greater return. Benefits of training early and often includes:

  • Increased communication in the workplace
  • Developing and enhancing existing skills
  • Gaining a better understanding of the technology and their use in business
  • Building leadership qualities
  • Addressing weaknesses and improving employee performance
  • Increased productivity

6. Develop a Proper Risk Management Strategy

We always hear “prevention is better than cure.” The same applies to your business and projects as well. With a proper risk management strategy in place, your company can deal with anticipated risks. This will save you time, money, and unwanted disruptions in completing the project.

In order to develop a proper risk management strategy, you must first identify the risk, analyze, rank, monitor, and respond to the risk. While building the correct strategy can make the unmanageable, manageable, here are the benefits it brings in:

  • Save valuable resources, including time, assets, people, and money
  • Create a safe and secure environment for people working on the project
  • Reduce legal liability and increase the stability of operations
  • Protect people and assets from unwanted risks

7. Communicate and Coordinate Regularly

The success of any project relies highly on the team’s communication. Whether it is in the form of verbal or non-verbal body language, a message, or feedback, the importance of communication is invaluable. According to a survey, a project manager must spend 90% of his time communicating with the team members.

A project team is a diverse group of people, and they need to work together to deliver the tasks and activities they are responsible for. So, every member of the team must be aware of the real challenges of the project and the issues within the team.

At the same time, communication is not only about hearing and speaking, but it is also about understanding the complete message. The language, tone, and body language all play an important role while you communicate. If any of these is used incorrectly, it will lead to different misunderstandings. So, make sure that you maximize the effectiveness of communication. Articulate the project’s vision and success criteria with each team member, and use visuals like charts, tables, or graphs to communicate the project status. Besides, keep them engaged with each other and look to it that they communicate, collaborate, and coordinate effectively. 

8. Track Project Progress

Tracking progress helps you reach your goals. It aids in measuring the progress of each task. Moreover, it enables your team to stay focused and motivate them to achieve goals.

When you track progress regularly, you can focus on crucial things and help the team to move in the right direction. Thus, it reduces the chances of failure in the future. Additionally, it improves your ability to estimate project completion and thus gain credibility. More so, employees can accurately track their progress, empower them to work more efficiently, and help them recognize the distractions that are hindering their progress.

Without appropriate project progress tracking, you cannot determine what and how the work is being done. It prevents you from taking the right actions to reach your goals.

Summing Up

Project success can be defined by multiple parameters. But to ensure you deliver projects on time and within budget, you need to have the project properly planned, executed, and monitored timely. The tips mentioned above will help you prepare through your journey and achieve success with flying colors.

Amy leads MarketStar’s strategic content and demand marketing efforts. She supports the revenue engine at MarketStar with the aim of contributing to organic and new growth through content and campaigns designed to provide action and spark discussion. As a 21-year veteran of MarketStar, she has contributed to MarketStar’s success for two-thirds of the company’s history. Amy holds a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University. She is a published author and motivational speaker.

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