6 Common Pitfalls to Avoid in Project Management

Project management blunders can be very costly to companies. Project managers may face a number of pitfalls that have huge impact on performance which may cause delays that potentially lead to a total project failure.  So what causes failures?  We read a lot of tips on how to be great in managing, leading, communicating or whatever it is that we do.  But if we are to talk about failures, we sometimes flinch at the fact that they can actually happen to us.  I mean, who is brave enough to accept that he failed? Still, it could happen!

Before the project manager and his team start any project, they must be able to evaluate and manage the possible risks that could happen.  Accept it, there could be things that would be hindrances in the successful delivery of the project.  Thus, whether we like it or not, we need to face possible road-blocks and hurdles while working on a project.

So, what could prevent a project team from succeeding?  Let us identify 6 common pitfalls to avoid in project management to help us prepare for our next projects.

Pitfall #1 Poor Planning Resulting to Unclear Goals and Objectives.

  • A poorly created project plan is one of the pitfalls of project management. The project plan includes all information relevant to the success of the project, including goals, strategies and key performance indicators.  The absence of a clear objectives is a huge factor in the failure of a project. People involved in the project cannot work and deliver well if they do not understand or worse, are not even aware of the objectives of their project. Every member of the team must have a clear picture of what they are going to do because when the goals are not met, it would result to bigger complications and problems.

Solution:  Have a well-thought out project plan.  Come up with a SMART objective, that is, a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound goal.  In other words, your plan should answer the questions, what, why, who and when.  Make sure that everyone understands how the tasks are to be done, thereby, meeting the expectations of all stakeholders. And, be aware of your key performance indicators. 

Pitfall #2 Poor Communication Leading to Disastrous Process. 

  • It is imperative that there should be regular talks between the manager and the team and all stakeholders of the project.  Communication ensures transparency and team collaboration.  Lack of communication can impact the quality of the deliverables and can even lead to missed dates.

Solution:  Establish the right and appropriate medium of communication.  Allow the members to understand that communication is essential for team collaboration.  Proper channels would include chat messenger for quick conversations and emails for more important issues and concerns.  Conduct regular check-ins with the people involved in the project for tracking of project status and updating of changes and developments.

Pitfall #3 Poor Resource Planning Decreasing the Probability of Success.

  • Resources also make up projects. Every resource is based on cost. They come in different forms, like materials, equipment including our work force, which is actually the most important resource.   So one can only imagine how costly it can be when we have chosen the inefficient, inexperienced and unproductive members of the team.  Our project can be jeopardized.

Solution:  It is very important to select the right project leader and members to deliver the requirements of the clients. And when we have highly proficient and experienced people in the team, we should provide them with support to ensure that the team can follow through with all expectations given them. All resources must be allocated according to their abilities. 

Pitfall #4 Poor Management of Scope Creep.

  •   Scope creep is defined as “adding features and functionality (project scope) without addressing the effects on time, costs, and resources, or without customer approval”. We should expect changes on projects.  Those are in reality inevitable.  This is the very reason that project managers must know how to manage score creep.  Well-planned projects also undergo changes in scopes especially with the rise of new information or changing conditions in the environment.  Mismanaged scope creep can pose an obstacle to project success, thus leading to failure.

Solution:  To manage score creep, there should be a well-defined scope from the beginning of the project. And this would include the project vision which the team must articulate on their own.  If there will changes, assess how it will affect the scope, the budget and timeline.  The project manager has to work with the management and client to either negotiate a later delivery date for the project or reduce its scope when necessary.

Pitfall #5  Poor Delegation of Responsibilities and Accountabilities. 

  • The success or failure of the project would always be the responsibility of the project leader and his team.  Everyone has to know their roles as well as the extent of their accountabilities. They must be clearly spelled out from the very start of the project so that all members are on the same page.

Solution:  Accountability requires both transparency and communication.  Members of the project team tend to become more accountable when their progress is known to them.  Eventually, they would feel that that it is also their responsibility to report and update their leader of the status of their task. 

Pitfall #6 Poor Calculation of Risks.

  •   Being reactive to risks as they arise only shows poor planning. Good planning should include a process of figuring out risks that might happen in the project and how to control them if it they occur.

Solution:  Risk management should be part of the planning process at the very start of any project.  Risks must be identified, categorized and prioritized before they become issues.  Being proactive is the key to managing and solving risks.

Knowing the mentioned pitfalls will help project team leaders to achieve their goals and deliver projects within the scope and on time.   We should bear in mind that success is not really about the absence of issues in our projects.  It is actually the ability to detect and find solutions to them as early as possible.  Through proper planning and clear communication, those pitfalls can be avoided.

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