Project management is about understanding a process—not just a service or product—and leading teams to a common goal.
Organizations that run projects well reduce risks, save money, and improve outcomes. Here are five project management pitfalls, and tips on how to overcome them and ensure your team is at the top of its game for achieving business success.
1. Implementing the Wrong Team.
If you have the wrong team in place, you may find deadlines slipping, excessive unnecessary work, or worst case, an entirely derailed project. Assess your team situation from the outset—figure out what skills are needed to meet project goals and the strengths and weaknesses of team members. Immediately work to correct anything that may hinder the success of your project.
How to Overcome: Focus on education and training, offering tools and resources that will help your team succeed. As stated by the Project Management Institute, “high-performing organizations are significantly more likely to focus on talent management, establishing ongoing training, and formal, effective knowledge transfer.” It is also important to pay attention to team dynamics. Understand that teams are made of individuals, and you may need to address different communication styles, learning abilities, and personalities along the way.
2. Failure to Secure Buy-In from All Sides.
Bill Rosenthal, CEO of Communispond, suggests that one of the reasons projects fail is because they don’t have enough support from all parties affected by the project. As the PM, your job is to secure buy-in from team members, people directly impacted by the project, and company stakeholders.
How to Overcome: Effectively communicate with all who will be involved with and impacted by the project. Present the project in a positive way to get people excited about any changes coming. Provide contact information and be prepared to communicate the project goals and objectives to the leadership team.
3. Running Too Thin.
Some project managers fall into the trap of becoming too optimistic about what they can handle or how much time a particular project may take. Sometimes overachievers under deliver and may end up missing deadlines, aggravating supervisors or clients, or taking on undue stress that can negatively impact team performance.
How to Overcome: Utilize clear systems that can quickly show how many projects are running at once. Prioritize projects and move less important ones to the back burner. Understand the value of saying “no” and be prepared to have supporting information if your recommendation is to put a project on hold or push deadlines.
4. Lack of Project Scope.
Understanding how your project affects the business’ bottom line and, ultimately, what the end goal or results are, are keys to success. Lack of planning or setting a solid scope of the project can cost your organization time and money. Step outside of thinking in tactics and instead, think strategy. This approach can help you define project scope and reach goals more efficiently.
How to Overcome: The Department of Defense utilized a great method of ensuring project scope for its electronic military health record system. Daily meetings, regular communication, and using a scope management process supported the ongoing success of this project. Seek out model projects—whether in your organization or elsewhere—and use them as examples for how to manage scope and communication for your project management success.
5. Undervaluing the Need to Track Success.
Tracking the success of your project is not just a good idea for the business, but it helps keep the team focused on milestones and the end goal. Without metrics for success you may never feel that a project is complete, or a project may move out of scope.
How to Overcome: Set specific goals and have a plan for monitoring and tracking success along the way. You want to be able to answer the question, “How is it going?” with solid evidence to back up your status report. Additionally, don’t just wait for the final product to celebrate success. Share milestones and success stories along the way with your team. This provides momentum and helps keep your team motivated to achieve the end goals.
An MBA in Project Management can provide you with the skills needed to overcome these and other pitfalls and expand your skills in team development, leadership, and successful project execution. By understanding the struggles of project management, you can work to develop the skills you need to demonstrate success as a project manager.