Though in project management, like in most professions, practice makes perfect, it is often the simplest project management mistakes which can keep causing problems. This can easily happen when trying to find the incremental gains that will give you an extra two percent productivity but losing sight of the basics that costs you 20 percent.
These common mistakes in project management occur across every sector and can cause serious problems and even project failure if they’re not addressed. If you’re wondering what these major issues are and how you can avoid them, here are some of the biggest offenders.
The Most Common Mistakes in Project Management (and How to Avoid Them)
- Not clarifying objectives
Without a clear idea of what they’re supposed to be doing it’s pretty hard for any team to work towards it. This might seem like a simple fix but think of a situation where a client wants to move to a higher market segment, the goal for your team might be to design a marketing campaign to draw in more leads, so they naturally target the demographics where the client’s name is already known and successful. Thus, they could successfully achieve their goal (drawing in leads) but completely miss the overall objective. Trust your team by keeping them in the loop about the bigger picture.
- Not reading the room right
Teams will most likely change in their make-up from one project to the next. This means that the dynamics change and so what worked to motivate a previous team won’t work for this one. One of the biggest project management mistakes is trying to use a one-size-fits-all management approach and failing to adapt to the situation at hand.
- Setting timelines that break your team
Timelines for deliverables are key indicators and milestones for both your team and on the client side. However, make them too tight and you can burn your team out or risk gaining a reputation for missing deadlines, but make them too lax and the client may shift business to someone who promises quicker delivery. To strike a balance talk with both sides to explain exactly how long something should take and get buy-in from all parties.
- Ignoring risk indicators (or not understanding them in the first place)
Risk is everywhere, from vendor relationships breaking down to regulatory non-compliance to acts of nature shutting down work. Risks can’t be avoided but they can definitely be planned for and anticipated. Failing to assess and monitor risk is akin to sailing a ship without lifeboats, you might never hit an iceberg but you’re always better off watching out for them and knowing what to do if disaster strikes.
- Wanting to do everything yourself
Micro-managing or “helicopter management” is a waste of time and energy for both you and your team. You can’t do it all, as much as you might want to, so the best you can do is pick who you feel is the right team member for the task and trust in their abilities, this will empower them and leave you free to worry about the myriad other issues in the project.
- Failing to seek help in time
For reasons ranging from pride to fear, most project managers hate to “take things upstairs” and let anyone know that they are having trouble with their project. The problem is that by the time they are forced to, the issue has escalated considerably. This understandably frustrates more senior management and puts the project at risk. Seek out a trusted mentor or project sponsor and keep in close contact with them about how the project is going. It might be as little as 15 minutes a week, but that extra safety net can prove invaluable.
There are many common mistakes in project management that can also be avoided by simply having greater transparency and quicker access to information. This reduces the chains of communication necessary to transmit project information and reduces risk. Using a project management platform, such as Clarizen, greatly improves project visibility and improves communication. Find out how Clarizen can greatly reduce the prevalence of project management mistakes by trying our free trial today.