It’s not easy being a project manager. You need to carefully manage systems, schedules, budgets and most importantly, people. And then there’s inevitable problems that you’ll need to overcome. All told, it’s a job that requires serious discipline, patience and above all, perseverance.
Seeing a project through, particularly a complex one, is rarely easy. Costs overrun, delays happen and mistakes are made. However, there are ways to overcome these issues, even before they arise. In this article, we identify six common project management mistakes, and ways you can address them.
1. No clearly defined plan
The first thing a good project manager does is make a clearly defined plan. If you don’t, failure isn’t just possible, it’s inevitable. You need to work with your stakeholders-your employees, your seniors, and your clients-to establish the project’s desired outcome. Once you’ve done so, break the project down into smaller, more manageable goals. Make a timeline with key milestones, and come up with a way of measuring success, both at a micro and a macro level. If you do this soon, and if you do this well, the more likely it is you’ll succeed.
2. Not getting stakeholders onboard
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a project manager is getting all you stakeholders to buy into your vision. The failure of stakeholders, particularly senior management, is one of the most common reasons project’s fail. If you want the project to succeed you have to get stakeholders to buy into your vision from the start. Be honest with them (in a constructive way), include them and, most importantly of all, involve them. A stakeholders should, as the word suggests, have a stake in the project. It’s your job to make them feel that they do.
3. Not properly addressing changes
As you well know, unforeseen changes happen, and they’re rarely if ever welcome. You’ll likely be faced with fewer resources and/or more requests. That’s just how project management is. How you address these changes will almost certainly determine whether the project succeeds or fails.
4. Too much micromanagement
If you’ve assembled a team to do a project, then you’ve got to trust all of them to do it. It may be hard for some of you to do, especially if you’re heavily invested in the project, but you have to let them get on with their work. Too much micromanagement can be detrimental to the project. Team members may feel less valued and at times, disrespected, leading to probably conflict and possible failure. It’s imperative that you give them space and let them repay your trust.
5. Expanding scope
Part and parcel of being a good project manager is dealing with expanding scope, or scope creep, as many call it. It may be that you need to make additional products, find additional venue space or provide for more customers. Over time these new changes and considerations can really add up and the project can become unwieldy. However, you can guard against this by planning ahead, monitoring the project’s scope and updating it’s goals and budget accordingly. Remember, scope creep happens. It’s up to you to deal with it.
6. Lack of regular communication
Unless you’re hellbent on failure, you need to communicate regularly with stakeholders. To be a good project manager you need good communicate well and, just as importantly, you need to communicate regularly. If you want the project to run smoothly, and avoid awkward conversations, schedule regular updates and reviews. Also, don’t be afraid to ask others how they’re doing. Both you and them will feel more involved and committed to the project.