Follow the following steps if you really want to avoid project failure:
Pre-project (Initiating) stage:
- Ensure full management buy in and support for your project (ensure that all the executives are on board)
- Ensure your project's alignment with the company's objectives even before you start the project (alignment should be maintained throughout the project).
- Create ALL the project management documents, don't say that you don't need a project charter, or a project risk management plan, or project communication plan, create them all
- Ensure that the project scope contains what should be in the project, and, probably more importantly, what shouldn't be in the project
- Ensure you project charter contains the vision, the goal, and the objectives of the project, and that this vision, goal, and objectives is understood by everyone involved in the project, including the team members
- Talk to experts when scheduling the tasks if you're not technical yourself
- Pick the right team for the project
- Pick the right person for the right task, don't give, for example, a programmer a designer's task
- Constantly and regularly communicate with your team members about their tasks. Dig in to find problems (team members are creative in hiding issues).
- Adopt a proactive approach to managing issues and risks.
- Immediately resolve team conflicts, ensure your team is at least at the Norming stage (Tuckman's 4 stages)
- Communicate frequently with the client, the project sponsor, and the stakeholders about the project. Keep everyone interested in the project.
- Monitor the quality of the tasks done through your quality management plan
- Avoid conflicts with your stakeholders, the functional managers, and the team members
- Create a formal process for adopting change requests
- Proactively address all kinds of project management creeps: Scope creep, feature creep, effort creep, hope creep, etc...
Apply all the above and your project should have no problem whatsoever. And, as the answer below states "Plan, Plan, Plan".
Final tip: Be OPTIMISTIC!
Note: Controlling stage essential activities for project success are included in the Executing Stage activities. Closing stage activities do not have any effect on the project from a success/failure point of view.