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Project success factors

3 Factors to Achieve Project Success

Doug Shaffer
Doug Shaffer

As exciting as landing a new gig is, ensuring your project's success is critical. Oftentimes clients will remember what went wrong throughout the process of working together before they will remember all the amazing results you produced. The best way to avoid leaving them with anything bad to think about is by focusing on delivering a successful project. 

What makes projects successful can often vary depending on what service you provide or who your ideal clients are. For freelance writers successful projects can range from creating a blog post that drives customer engagement to crafting a sales sheet that increases revenue and profit. This example is true for nearly every freelancer regardless of industry and is a key reason you need to establish project success factors early on.


Even though we all have different skills and offer different services there are a few common factors that often predict success in our projects. Three important project key success factors include establishing & maintaining a timeline, controlling scope creep, and executing on deliverables.


Using Timelines to Determine Success

An important step in a project is working with your client in establishing deadlines for each deliverable. Pairing these deadlines with weekly or biweekly meetings, depending on the length of  work, is a great way you can earn your client's trust. You can go into these conversations with information on how each step of the project is coming along and inform them if you are ahead of schedule. 

Establishing dates for tasks is also a great way to set the expectations for your partnership. If early on you find that your client is looking to have 50% of the work completed in a week, but you know it will take you at least two weeks, you can have those conversations up front. Managing timelines and expectations for work completion can go a long way in making your project successful.


Maintaining a Productive Project by Controlling Scope Creep

If there is one factor that will determine whether or not your project is productive it is how well you can control scope creep. As freelancers we have all been a part of an engagement where our client asks us for one little favor that takes an extra five minutes to complete. Slowly over time, these requests become more frequent or they expand so much that deliverables are changing or being added. Managing the amount of additional out-of-scope work you take on will determine if your project is a success or a failure.

Oftentimes the best way to handle scope creep is through effective communication. More times than not, our clients don’t fully understand or realize that their requests take longer to complete than they assume. To them it should be a simple task, but for us it requires an hour of our time that could have been used working on a deliverable for the actual project. 

That is why it is important to meet with your client frequently and have a conversation when these requests come in. Simply letting them know that you are happy to assist with any work, but it is going to take this long or cost an additional fee is usually enough to keep expectations clear on both sides. Articles such as, “The Evils of Scope Creep and How to Prevent Them” are great resources for identifying and handling scope creep in projects.


Creating High Quality Deliverables will Influence Whether a Project Succeeds or Fails

The final success factor to keep in mind is creating high quality deliverables that drive results. At the end of the day your client hired you because they needed results. Either they needed you to create something or provide a service that they can derive value from. If at the end of the engagement you deliver the final work and it misses the mark on any action items, it can quickly turn a relationship sour especially if the project was long-term.

To help avoid these end of project mishaps, constant communication and allowing your client to see the progress of your work will help immensely. It also provides an opportunity for them to give feedback on the work and suggest changes or improvements, instead of waiting till the end. 

Overall, we all want to achieve success in the projects we work on for our clients. In order to do so, we have to guide expectations and ensure we fully understand what it is that our partners truly need. Through the use of timelines, managing scope creep, and executing on deliverables success in your project is almost certain.


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