If something is challenging, it’s probably worth doing. This is especially true in the world of project management. While some challenges can bring with them opportunities for success, other challenges can just plain get in the way of things. Ivana Stojanovska of Project Management Tips has found what may be the Top 7 Project Management Challenges:
- Unclear goals
- Changes in scope
- Lack of accountability
- Shifting priorities
- Poorly managed project changes
- Time constraints
- Limited budget
Stojanovska’s first project management challenge – unclear goals – is perhaps the most obvious and easily avoided challenge. It is clearly very easy to run into difficulties when you are not sure what you are supposed to be doing in the first place. Without clear and defined goals, what is the point of spending time on a project? You must know what you want from the onset in order to overcome obstacles:
You can’t reach a goal if it isn’t clearly defined. Oftentimes, the problem with unclear goals comes all the way from upper management, where managers can’t agree on specific, measurable milestones. This can particularly be a problem in large projects involving several departments or divisions, since each department is likely to have its own goals. To overcome this issue, it’s best for a project manager to, if possible, have one point of contact with upper management and to ask questions to establish clear goals from the start.
Once you have firmly established goals, you still might run into the issue of changes in scope. As Stojanovska notes, a project’s scope is equally as important as its goals, so managers should make sure to consider precisely what a potential scope change could to other parts of a project. Also, you must communicate these thoughts and potential actions to the project’s stakeholders before moving forward. You must make people accountable for all aspects of the project, so having others review changes – even if they don’t necessarily want to – is strongly advised. If need be, avoid the challenge of lack of accountability by creating checkpoints at the onset of a project to allow managers to quickly address performance issues.
Another challenge that can really disrupt how everyone works is shifting priorities. Granted, sometimes as new information is gathered priorities must shift in order to improve the overall project. All you can really do in these instances is to “roll with the punches,” as Stojanovska suggests. Revise what you can, but be sure not to give up. Sometimes reaching forward when you’re being pulled back can help your mindset and your performance. However, you might run into yet another challenge when changes in your project are poorly managed. Again, when you hit such a bump in the road, be sure to focus on your communication with stakeholders and team is the best method for recovery.
Time constraints and limited budgets have plagued project management since the beginning of time. Stojanovska advises being transparent and sticking to milestones to combat these challenges. It is true that you will undoubtedly face challenge after challenge when dealing with project management, but that does not mean you can’t overcome these challenges and conduct continually successful projects.