The project manager who knows how to consistently handle problems will live and prosper in the profession for years. For the rest, you might need to break out Chopin’s “Funeral March.” Jennifer Lonoff Schiff sets the bar by defining the seven most important problems for a PM to solve in an article for CIO.com.
The 7 Deadly PM Problems
Expectations must be established from the get-go, says Schiff. By using a RACI chart, the PM can give project roles the structure and visibility required to hold staff accountable. CEO Lize Pearce of LiquidPlanner articulates the need for CIOs to be expert project resource planners:
Exceptional IT managers are masters at balancing supply (resources) and demand (break/fix issues alongside the project)…project management system that provides resource visibility and forecasting tools, so PMs can [quickly make decisions, re-allocate resources and] ultimately reduce schedule thrash.
Deadlines are a more universal problem, but for the PM they take on a whole new dimension. Ashley Schwartau, a production director of The Security Awareness Company, deals with deadlines by setting them artificially ahead for team members, thus leaving a buffer for the occasional blunder or review. Another common problem is scope creep. A good PM keeps thorough documentation of changes, validations, assets and impacts. A great PM will go further by implementing risk and quality management strategies.
Then there is the element of surprise. In this case, it is not something the PM wants to have. A regular status meeting should suffice to get the jump on unwelcome disruptions, but collaborative task tracking software is a good second bet. Regarding the sixth item, the team is dispersed around the nation or globe. The solution here is technical. With the appropriate mobile collaboration tool, the limitations of distance are overcome. And finally, a lack of team harmony will inevitably undo even the best of developing projects. The fix here is to stay engaged with team members through regular phone consults and in-person visits.