Avoiding These 5 Project Management Mistakes Will 10X Productivity
Project management is a complex job that requires handling a lot of diverse irons in a really hot, moving fire. With so many moving pieces it is easy to see how some tasks can fall through the cracks or get implemented incorrectly. Often these error lead to project timelines being busted and projects taking longer to complete. While making mistakes is inevitable, understanding what to look out for can help you and your team avoid the biggest mea culpas and deliver more projects on time and on budget.
5 Things Not to Do in Project Management
Whether you are a new project manager or someone who has been handling projects for a while, it’s easy to make a mistake. Here are three big things you should definitely avoid:
1. Fail to Properly Schedule Your Resources
The term “resources” can refer to people, equipment, or services that make a project go. However, the biggest project management schedule errors come from leveraging your team. As VisualPlanning.com explains, scheduling resources properly “involves allocating and scheduling resources based on resource capacity, availability, effort, as well as project scope. Organizations run into trouble by either over-allocating resources or under-allocating them, which can impact profitability, client satisfaction, employee trust, or relationships with third-party vendors.” To bring a project, first set up a meeting with the entire team that outlines the timeline and goals. This will help set expectations for when and what each resource will be doing during the project. It can also help build a sense of community, that the whole team will be working together to achieve the goal, and slip ups or delays by one group, will impact the work of others. During this time it may also be appropriate to review PTO or remote workers in another time zone. If you are on a 20 day sprint, but one day is a holiday, it is not reasonable to expect work to be completed on that day. Also, make a plan to have some team members come in early or leave late to communicate with remote workers in different time zones. In an article published on ChamberofCommerce.com, I explain, “If you have remote workers or global workers who may be in another time zone, take that into consideration so no one is left out. If someone is going to be inconvenienced no matter what, check in with them first and find out if they would rather miss the meeting and get caught up later, or if there’s a better way to include them.” Additionally, it is often wise to pad some extra time in the schedule to make sure you have accounted for potential problems, emergencies, or even sick staff. If you have pre-scheduled everything where one bad day can throw the entire project off, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Sometimes, this can be difficult with a demanding client that doesn’t understand how much real time is needed to finish something properly. Stand your ground. Setting timeline expectations at the beginning of a project is much better than constantly asking for extensions.
2. Selecting Inappropriate People for the Job
While proper scheduling is essential, it is even more vital to have the correct staff members present. Hiring or assigning the wrong people to critical parts of the project is a sure way to make it suffer or fail outright. The challenge here is that with some technical projects, it can be hard or even impossible to get the right person for the job at hand. When this happens, you might need to appoint someone to the task where they are going to have to learn as they go. To ensure no team member feels overwhelmed with their job, especially those learning on the job, break tasks into even smaller pieces. As team members knock-off smaller tasks they will feel momentum and confidence that can help carry them through other challenging parts of the work. While the project may seem huge as a whole, breaking down tasks to their lowest, and fastest level, will help employees dive right in and know they can successfully tackle each tasks.
3. Not Prioritizing Tasks
It is easy to think that every task is a priority when working on a project, but if everything is a top priority, nothing is a top. Try to identify the key projects, that if missed, will lead to large delays or hold other teams. Those tasks should be labeled as Priority #1 and tightly managed to be completed on time. As GreyCampus.com points out, “you can also identify priorities based on the number of people impacted. Answering what consequence certain project carries can also help in the ranking of the task.” Other tasks, like CSS or visuals can often get slightly behind without holding up huge members of the team. These tasks are not unimportant but should be allowed to slip to hold Priority #1 tasks to the timeline. If priorities do change, the project manager must notify the team.
4. Letting Project Scope Get Out of Hand
Scope creep is a common project management problem that can happen at any point of the project. It is the project manager’s job to prevent the client make such unreasonable demands that no one could possibly meet them. Part of your job as project manager is to make sure the scope stays reasonable. While you may need to add in some additional work, constantly adding new features will set the project up for failure and confuse the team on what the actual priorities are. Often asking yourself if the add-ons are critical to the success of the project can provide a clear answer. If it is just nice to have, it is better to keep out of the current build. As TeamGantt.com explains, “don’t ever be shy to stop a conversation and say, ‘Let me refer back to the estimate/scope/plan and get back to you.’”
5. Not Using A Project Management Tool
With so many moving pieces in terms of tasks and resources, there is no way one single person can keep all the project management details in their head. It is vital that the team use a project management tool that outlines the tasks, the timelines, and the current status of each part of the project. The best project management are updated weekly or daily and allow the entire team to see progress and potential delays. Keeping visibility in a tool is a great way to easily maintain communication on a project.
Avoid Common Pitfalls in Project Management
You have a lot of pieces of a large, complex puzzle swirling around that need to be managed properly. Avoiding common pitfalls can really make your job a lot easier – and your project more successful.