Project Management Mistakes and How to Dodge Them

project-management-mistakesEven the best project managers will admit to making man mistakes in the course of their careers. Mistakes, after all, can become valuable lessons toward becoming a better project manager especially when these are analysed well.

But savvy project managers know that they can learn from the mistakes made by others. Think of it as learning from the experience of others. Here are the common project management mistakes made by other project managers and the ways to avoid making them yourself.

Assigning the Wrong Persons for the Tasks

Everything in project management from the formulation of its goals to the implementation and evaluation of the activities require people to accomplish. This is true even when there are advanced tools and technologies being applied on the project since only people have the knowledge and skills to use them.

The most common mistake in project management then is assigning the wrong persons for the right tasks and activities. The person may be wrong on so many levels, such as his lack of appropriate knowledge and skills for the job, or his inability to work well within a team, or his unwillingness to think outside of the box.

Solution: Assess the knowledge and skills of each team member in relation to the planned tasks and activities. Assign the right persons for the job based on your assessment, thus, ensuring that their skill sets match the requirements.

Failing to Get the Support of the Team Members and the External People

For a team to be effective and efficient in the achievement of its goal, its team members must be 100% behind the common goal because everybody will work toward its achievement. This is also true for the people outside of the project management team, such as the departments and their people who have an impact on the team’s deliverables.

When even a single person inside and outside of the team becomes uncooperative, the schedule can be derailed, the goal can be dismissed, and the entire project can even be dissolved. This mistake has many causes, such as the failure to clearly describe the roles and responsibilities of each team member, or to describe the personal payoffs for each member, or to generate a sense of urgency to the project, among others.

Solution: Use effective communication in getting the team members to understand their roles and responsibilities as well as in encouraging them to work toward a common goal. Delivering a presentation about these matters including their significance can contribute to encouraging the team members and external people to lend their full support for the project.

Keep in mind that “external people” also mean the executives in charge of the project. The executives must feel a sense of ownership over the project from start to finish as well as have a personal interest in its success. The more support from executives, the more likely the success.

Too Many Productions Simultaneously

While having projects to manage is always a good thing for project managers, putting too many projects on the burner at once is actually counterproductive. You are not a superhero who can plan, implement and evaluate several projects at once without expecting something to come falling through the cracks of your burnout.

Besides, the ability to multitask may be a desirable trait among project managers but it has its risks. Multitasking can actually slow down people, hurt the quality of their work, and cause delays, among others, which then trickle down the organization until such time that others are adversely affected.

Solution: Lessen the work in progress load by as much as 25%. You will then be able to focus on the most urgent or most important project instead of dividing your time across several projects, many of which can wait. Project Management Software enable you to differentiate task based on priorities. By using such tools your productivity rate will increase and you can take on another project with equal success.

Failure to Communicate in an Effective and Regular Manner

Effective communication underlines the success of the best project management teams mainly because everybody should communicate their plans, progress and problems as well as their achievements in relation to the project with each other. Good communication is also crucial for developing teamwork and trust between the team members and the project manager.

Indeed, when the project manager fails to communicate in an effective and regular manner, the team can suffer from delays and shortcomings (e.g., over the budget, under performance). Think about it: When your team members have no reason to believe that you are interested in communicating with them, they are less likely to be behind the project.

Solution: Pick a specific time of the week to meet with the team members but be sure to keep your door open for any immediate concerns that crop up. Stick with the schedule but be sure that these meetings are, indeed, productive instead of taking away time from more productive pursuits. Set an agenda, if necessary, and ask the team to stick to it, too, so that everyone is on the same page.

Changing the Parameters Too Many Times

While changing a few aspects of the project parameters can be expected in light of the new factors coming in, changing these parameters one too many times can increase the risks for failure. Think about it: Your team members as well as the project stakeholders will be confused about many aspects of the project, such as what the goals are, what the parameters for evaluation are, and what the desired results are for the project, among others.

With confusion come the risks of losing their cooperation and commitment to the project. You cannot just change anything too much or too often without thinking about its impact on the timeline, goals and resources of the project.

Solution: Clearly define the scope of the project and then regularly monitor its progress. Check with the team members and stakeholders that, indeed, the scope, goals and parameters of the project are to their liking, so to speak.

You will be making many mistakes in your career as a project manager but the most important thing here is to learn from your mistakes.

Bhauvik Tripathi

Bhauvik Tripathi

Bhauvik Tripathi is the founder and managing director of Synquis. He has a Bachelor’s of Engineering in Telecommunications and a Master of Engineering in Information Technology. He is also a Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner.

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