When it comes to team success, a lot of it rests on the shoulders of the project manager. Project managers play a critical role in channeling information, keeping individuals on track, and generally being the knowledge hub of any project. Yet despite their best efforts sometimes good projects go bad. Why? Well, CIO.com recently surveyed dozens of IT executives and project managers to come up with a list of 12 common project management mistakes – along with ways to avoid these often time consuming and potentially costly problems. I have sifted through these to bring you the top 6 mistakes to be aware of listed below:
Assigning the Wrong Person to Manage the Project
Usually early on in a project, the majority of the time and effort is focused on lining up the right resources rather than identifying the right project manager. “Indeed, too often ‘project managers get picked based on availability, not necessarily on skill set,” says Sudhir Verma, VP of the Consulting Services & Project Management Office at Force 3, a technology solutions provider. Selecting an inadequately trained or inexperienced project manager can doom even the best of teams. It’s important to not only spend time selecting the right resources for the project, but also ensuring that you select a project manager whose skill set matches the project requirements.
Failing to get team buy-in
The fastest way to torpedo a project is failing to garner enough support from the departments and people directly affected and/or involved in the project. According to Bill Rosenthal, CEO of Communispond, in a CIO article, most managers fail at:
- Clearly explaining everyone’s respective role
- Describing the personal payoff everyone will receive when the project is successfully completed
- Explaining how each individual’s contributions will be evaluated
- Generating a sense of urgency about the project, leading the team to think business as usual will be fine
The best way to combat this is by getting the project manager to kick things off by calling the team together (including all off-site staff) and delivering a presentation about the project and its significance in a way that really gets everyone fired up.
No executive buy-in
For a project to be successful, “Somebody at the higher levels of the organization needs to own the project from start to finish and be personally vested in its success,” says Casey Holloran, co-founder and CMO at Costa Rican Vacations & Panama Luxury Vacations. “When [a project] has no clear head, things tend to fall apart.”
Too many projects at once
A common mistake that you may not have even been aware of is putting too many project’s into production at the same time. Most managers believe that they can get more done when they start a lot of projects at once, but in reality this practice is hugely counterproductive. When you force people to multitask, it actually makes them slower, hurts the quality of work produced, and worst of all can cause delays that have a ripple effect throughout the entire organization.
A good way to stop these productivity losses is to “reduce work in progress (WIP) by 25-50 percent,” says Realization CEO, Sanjeev Gupta. While this may sound counter intuitive, it actually helps reduce the back and forth and makes managers more responsive in dealing with issues and questions. Gupta points out that by reducing your work in progress by 25-50 percent “can double task completion rates.”
Lack of scheduled meetings
We all know that communication is a critical cornerstone to ensure project success. Even with all the project management software in existence today, nothing can replace the good old fashioned meeting and without them a project can easily fall apart. When starting a project, it’s always a good idea to pick a day and time that works best for the team and hold a weekly meeting (whether in person or virtually) and stick with it. Having a recurring scheduled meeting will help keep everyone on the same page and thus keep the project flowing.
Not having a specific scope
Scope creep is a total project killer. If you fail at defining a project’s scope not only will your project not have a clear end goal, but also it will be increasingly difficult to fight off scope creep and stay on task. Scope creep is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to your project. The best way to combat this is by clearly defining the scope of your project before any other work is started.
If after reading this you’re still curious of other common mistakes of project management, I suggest looking at this CIO.com article. In it, they outline several more mistakes we may be unconsciously making. I hope that now, once you are aware of these common slip ups you will be better situated to have your next project be a resounding success.