Project ManagementRisk Management

7 Critical Project Management Mistakes

How do good intentions result in smoldering craters? What series of mistakes resulted in this critical mass? When it comes to project management, there is any number of culprits. In an article for DZone, Jessica Morgan outlines seven potentially woeful mistakes:

  1. Selecting the wrong person to be project manager
  2. Communicating poorly
  3. Not dedicating enough time to planning
  4. Lacking clear project scope
  5. Setting unrealistic expectations and deadlines
  6. Ignoring risks
  7. Neglecting client satisfaction

Moments of Impact

A majority of project managers have no formal training, which is likely a significant part of the reason that a majority of projects are not unmitigated successes. However, data has shown that success rates exceed 70 percent when the manager has received formal training. Thus, it is crucial that managers with the most training are attached to the highest-value projects, and it is important in general to be providing training for managers.

Unfortunately, it is not as easy to “train” for communication skills. Either people make the effort to stay on the same page, or they work in silence, head off in different directions, and discover they have arrived in three different towns. The effort must be made to keep communication open up, down, and across channels.

Sometimes, deadlines become threatening before the project has even begun, leading to rushed planning. But robust planning now will surely save time in mistakes and last-second decisions later. Likewise, project scope needs to be settled at least enough that the team can work with confidence into the immediate future. Morgan goes so far as to recommend not allowing any scope changes to occur during the project, but that is just plain unrealistic, in addition to being a little dangerous.

When planning and scope are lax, unrealistic expectations arise, which almost always result in disappointment and frustration. Ultimately, being proactive just reduces long-term stress. Risk managers would certainly know this:

In his book Project Management for You, author Cesar Abeid interviewed and asked many Project Managers a question: “which aspect of project management is the most important?” Most of them replied, “risk management.” The author was amazed by this response because he was not expecting this reply from so many project management professionals.

Identifying the roadblocks that could hamper the project’s progress will go a long way in helping you mitigate those risks.

In the end, what dictates project success is if the business improves and customers reap the intended benefits. This is the bullseye the project must hit. But sometimes that dart board can shift a little, which is why it is important to allow some scope changes!

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