7 Project Management Errors that Destroy Project Timelines
With project management, organizations are able to apply specific skillsets, processes, knowledge, tools and techniques to ensure a project is completed successfully and within designated deadlines. Project management also includes monitoring the project so that it achieves its objectives through the various stages of the project.
The above figure illustrates the difference between the really successful projects and those that are going wrong. In this particular figure, the key is maturity of delivery capabilities but even then, if we look closely at these figures, we can sense that the difference between successful projects and those that fail is not very large.
So, let’s dig a little deeper to find out where project management goes wrong and some of the errors you must avoid:
1. Lack of Clear Goal Setting
Putting together a project and its team is all about ensuring the whole team is very clear about their roles, responsibilities and project deliverables. When you know there is a project coming up, it is important to sound out prospective team members about the project and their role in it. This will help them prepare for the upcoming project.
It is also imperative that you have a team kickoff meeting with all project stakeholders to define expectations. Otherwise, you will have a disorganized team on your hands that isn’t accountable to projects goals.
This brings us to another related error.
2. Not getting a buy-in for shared vision
A project is made up of a series of tasks that are managed by different people. Each person in the team, must be in sync with not only project goals but the process of achieving these goals. The project management team must know why the project is so important and must take collective ownership of the project. If they do not understand that they are collectively responsible for bringing the project vision to life, the project will take plenty of wrong turns, and go nowhere.
To put it simply, it is not just the senior management team, that should be fully aware of project vision, but each and every team member. It must be a vision that has a buy-in from everyone, irrespective of their project hierarchy.
3. Responsibilities Conflict
Projects can go wrong if team members are working at cross-purposes to each other or intruding into another team member’s area of responsibility. Think of a scenario wherein you are developing a mobile app. In this case, you do not want a developer commenting on design or vice versa. Each project member has a specific job to do, and they need to do it to the best of their ability.
We have talked about goal-setting, and assigning of project responsibilities; once these are assigned a project manager needs to make sure, the various team members are only doing the job that is assigned to them.
Another important element of conflicting responsibilities is conflict resolution. For a successful project, you must have a conflict resolution strategy in place. This helps you sort out any and every problem that your team encounters.
Recommended article: How to Handle a Disagreement on Your Team
4. Lack of Communication
You might think this is a very basic driving force of all successful projects, and you are right. But you will be surprised to know just how many projects fail or are unable to finish on time, because of communication problems between team members.
There could be plenty of reasons behind communication issues. Firstly, it could be a lack of realization that there is a problem. Secondly, there might be certain ego clashes that might be happening between team members. Thirdly, teams might be located across different locations in different time zones, thus making it difficult for them to sit together to talk things out.
Your focus, therefore should be on establishing strong communication between team members and also team members and their managers. Right at the beginning before the project starts, you must lay the groundwork for communication. This could be regular team meetings, setting up daily calls with remote teams, and an open-door policy wherein, team members can directly get in touch with leaders if they have a problem. Also establish a process wherein team members have to send an email to a common project email ID that discusses the work accomplished during the day.
Recommended article: 4 Tips for Managing Communication Among Remote, Multilingual Teams
These are the simpler options when it comes to facilitating communication between the project team. There are also plenty of tools available that can be used to improve communication and collaboration.
5. Not Breaking Down a Project into Small Tasks
This is more from a project leader/manager perspective. If you have been given a big project, how do you even begin to start the process of achieving the predetermined objectives? A project is basically a ‘to do’, so how do you begin to start delivering?
Ideally, you should break down your project into micro-tasks. Think of your project as a coming together of multiple smaller tasks. Each task has an end goal that together will help you achieve the bigger ‘end goal’. These goals will look and sound immensely more achievable.
Recommended article: What’s Microproductivity? The Small Habit That Will Lead You To Big Wins
Think about it. Would you rather go for a huge and “seemingly” difficult to achieve goal or a series of smaller goals that look like they can be achieved easily?
6. “Change is Not Good”
When it comes to a project, it is frequent changes in project scope, deliverables and direction that can destroy the project. It is very natural to think about improving the product or service you want to build, and many a times, great ideas come visiting when the project is well underway.
An additional feature, a design change or something else – everything can go a long way in probably making the product or service a whole lot better than you earlier envisioned it to be. But it is important that you are able to maintain control. A few changes here and there are ok, but you just cannot keep adding features to a product/service? You need to know when to stop. Ask yourself, whether a particular change is mission-critical for the project? If the answer is yes, you can think of making the change. Otherwise, just stick to the plan.
7. Change When Things Go Wrong
Yes, frequent changes are bad for a project, but you need to course correct, if and when you know things aren’t going right. One of the biggest reasons for project failure is not making the right changes to project strategy at the right time. It is important to be flexible and recognize that a part of your strategy used to achieve a requisite goal might be wrong.
Course correction can happen through the duration of the project, wherein you fine tune certain ideas and make them even more effective. When it comes to project management, the direction you are taking is not set in stone. There must be some flexibility.
Project management only succeeds if you as the project leader are honest about its goals and maintain completely transparency with respect to its process. You must be transparent with the team members as well as the clients. This ensures project success every single time.