Many IT executives moan about mismanagement in so many projects. In fact, even with project management applications, IT projects often end up taking much longer than anticipated and going beyond the budget.
While every project is different, the problems that may impact and possibly put projects at risk are often pretty similar. And even decent project managers make mistakes when tackling a large, complex IT project or when being barraged with change requests.
Have you got any specific concerns and issues preventing your project from being completed successfully? In this piece, we’ll take a look at nine common IT project management pitfalls that stop project teams from delivering results successfully.
Not Defining the Goals
When carrying out a project, the first and most important thing to do is to know what you’re trying to accomplish. Knowing your end goal clearly makes you feel like you own it and motivates you to do all you can to get there.
But with most teams, what happens is that the objectives aren’t spelt out and the focus is on the day-day tasks instead. While it’s vital to know your short-term assignments, it’s even more critical for your team to know the end goal. That’s the only thing that will keep them motivated and focused, and drive them into the right path as far as the project is concerned.
It happens to everyone sooner or later: The tendency to underestimate the amount of resources needed to complete a project within a given deadline.
Here’s the thing: raw numbers might have supported you initially, but there are always extenuating circumstances. Employees may take a sick leave or last-minute paid time off. Other projects and tasks can stop stakeholders from finishing tasks on time. There might be data loss on your network.
Any of these circumstances might cause delays. And however minor those delays might seem initially, they can snowball and drag projects beyond their expected conclusion.
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Scope and objective statements are the basis on which every project is managed. Project teams check these documents to understand the following things about a project:
- Overall objectives and goals
- Responsible parties
When defining a project’s scope, consult with each stakeholder and the project’s sponsor to know their needs as well as expectations. This will help you:
- Avoid scope creep
- Expose missing requirements
- Reduce change orders
- Provide a more practical timeline
Once you’ve made a good scope statement, have your project sponsor and stakeholders review and approve it. Remember, your project’s success will be determined by your team’s ability to meet the requirements and deliverables as set out in the scope statement.
Effective communication is one of the most important factors when doing a project. The project manager, stakeholders, and team members need a smooth way of communicating about the project’s progress.
But what usually occurs is that communication between these parties is highly structured and delayed. Rather than communicate the issue immediately, there’s a need to go through different levels of management or wait for meetings. This means that issues which might be solved on the spot are put off until the following meeting to be sorted out. This delays the entire project itself.
Not Using Project Planning Tools
Good project management tools enable teams to remotely access information, assign tasks, monitor progress, and share project information on one platform, for example, apps such as Basecamp or Trello.
Some companies even focus on building custom project management applications to meet the needs of specific organizations. Either way, it’s important for project teams to know how to use these tools effectively and ensure efficiency.
Lack of Coordination
When doing a project, coordination is very important to a team. If the members of a team have clearly defined tasks and roles, they coordinate and run the project on their own. However, for most teams, project coordination is the responsibility of only the project manager, with the team having no say.
This causes tension in the team and makes them unable to coordinate even for minor tasks. Thus, it’s critical to assign tasks, define roles, and meet the entire team every now and then to let them know about the project’s progress.
Lack of Stakeholder Involvement
Stakeholders are interested in the successful completion of a project. Each project has various stakeholders who usually have different requirements toward the project.
Failure to balance stakeholder requirements can lead to conflict and dissatisfaction between the project manager and stakeholders. Depending on their power to make decisions, disenchanted stakeholders may have a major effect on the project. If worse comes to worst, they could withdraw their support and buy-in completely.
Having an Unrealistic Deadline
Having an unrealistic deadline is a huge risk. Unfortunately, that’s something quite often seen in IT project management.
Not giving your staff enough time to complete the project means they’ll be in a hurry. Inevitably, bigger mistakes may happen as employees will be in a rush to meet your deadline.
It’s your project manager’s duty to allocate adequate time so that everyone can feel comfortable while knowing there’s a fixed deadline keep them on their toes.
Not Monitoring Work Progress
While keeping an eye on the work done daily and how your staff performs is what most companies do nowadays, many project managers don’t track work progress.
This is a key metric as it helps you and your project team to be accountable and productive as much as possible. The first thing employees need so as to follow the guidelines given and commit to their tasks is accurate information that demonstrates how things are moving and what needs to be done.
This has also been shown to enhance communication, which is a critical part of successful project completion.
A good way to ensure accountability is to meet with your project team often and take a look at the figures. Everyone should give an update of their progress, after which the team can look into the future together.
The true measure of success in any project isn’t the absence of problems but the ability to find and resolve problems immediately. As a project team leader, knowing and avoiding common IT project management pitfalls will help you enjoy huge success while delivering your projects on time and within the scope.
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