Neglecting project management altogether is a huge mistake for any business, but it’s not the only one you can make. Here are seven common mistakes organizations make — and how you can avoid them.
1. Insufficient or Incorrect Resources
Project management requires more than just raw talent. Today, there is an abundance of tools available to help your employees bring their projects to fruition. Ignoring these critical resources will often lead to time lags and inadequate oversight.
Project management software is particularly helpful in governing your project. Using tools like Trello, Wrike, or Asana, you can assign tasks and due dates, assess progress and deliver resources.
Project management tools and resources extend far beyond the software you use to govern your project, however. You also need to bring in the proper resources to allow team members to complete the tasks. That includes the necessary qualities and responsibilities in the people themselves. You must account for various roles, ones that are critical for meeting the requirements of your stakeholder.
2. Overreliance on Resources
At the same time, some businesses over-rely on resources like project management software during the process. This can lead to a mindset of believing the tools will do the work for you, when, of course, that’s impossible.
It’s important to strike a balance between using resources effectively and recognizing when manual labor is necessary to fill in the gaps during the project management process. Carefully examine each tool you’re considering adopting, and determine how, exactly, it will augment your efforts — not replace them entirely.
3. Lack of Proper Skills
The individual leading your project must have the requisite project management skills. Without them, your project will lack the necessary oversight that will bring it to fruition.
Depending on the industry and project itself, this leader is not necessarily someone with the title of project manager. Still, they must possess the experience and project management skills to shepherd the other team members, budget, attain resources, and oversee the timeline, among other responsibilities.
Because this person is tasked with developing plans, facilitating timelines, understanding and addressing risks, and working closely with all team members, it’s helpful for them to have knowledge of project management methodologies and other factors involved. Look for someone with experience and proven results. They will be more likely to navigate the problems that will inevitably occur and change course when necessary.
No one likes to be micromanaged. But the effects of this approach extend far beyond dissatisfaction within the team. Not only will it lower morale, but over-involved project managers and other leaders will lead to less innovation, overworked managers, and longer timelines, among other problems.
Input from all team members leads to greater innovation and creativity. Moreover, delegating tasks to the people who are most equipped to work on them will allow teams to operate more productively. Of course, the team morale will be improved as well.
It’s not enough to simply discourage micromanagement. You should actively welcome the suggestions and ideas of team members, such as by holding brainstorming sessions. This, too, will boost camaraderie.
5. Too Broad a Plan
Specificity is critical to the project management process. When your plan is too broad, without properly defined roles and tasks, confusion can too easily arise, leading to problems and a lack of focus. The scope can also get out of control, too — this is called “scope creep,” meaning uncontrolled changes that widen the scope of the project too broadly.
Start with an initial meeting to clarify objectives, make space for questions, and get everyone properly onboarded. Take care to layout individual goals and responsibilities as well. Be specific then and into the future, keeping everyone informed and on track. Make sure you keep track of the details, too, via project management software or other systems.
6. Unclear Goals, Requirements, or Objectives
When your goals and requirements are not solid from the beginning of the project, your team members will have difficulty knowing what they’re working toward. Moreover, if these objectives change during the project management process, this will lead to further chaos down the road.
Work closely and carefully with stakeholders and clients, if they’re involved, to hammer out requirements and goals from the beginning. Ensuring understanding is critical because if clients or stakeholders change requirements during the project, it will lengthen the timeline, potentially increase the cost, and otherwise interrupt the project.
A written contract or list of requirements can help clarify objectives. Make sure you have all parties sign the document to prevent misunderstandings. Many professionals employ the DUMB methodology — Doable, Understandable, Manageable, and Beneficial. This is a helpful methodology to employ when establishing goals.
7. Lack of Communication
A lack of a proper communication strategy and means will almost certainly mean problems for you and your team. Communicating effectively allows the project to flow and encourages team members to resolve problems. Without it, you won’t be able to see meaningful progress and collaboration.
Hone a communication strategy early on in the project. Establish channels for different purposes — say a video conferencing platform for team meetings and a chat platform for quick check-ins — and set up regular times for touching base. Ensure that the client and stakeholders are kept in the loop as well.
It’s clear that a well-honed project management process is critical for the success of any project across a wide range of industries.
Whether you’re kicking off your first major project as a team or you’re a seasoned project manager or leader looking for ways to hone your strategy and methodology, pay attention to these mistakes and take care to address them so they don’t cause lags or worse. Ultimately, your project success depends, at least in part, on your management and plans.