‘Why do good projects go bad?’ – This seems to be a question a lot of project managers end up asking themselves. This blog post presents some of the most common project management mistakes made by companies all over the world. By being aware of these issues, you will be able to increase your chances of success with all future projects.
An organisational culture that is not ready for project management
A lot of companies initiate project management when their organisational culture is not ready for it. For instance, individuals are given special project assignments, yet they are not given the resources, training and/or tools to execute them. Such a project culture is extremely unproductive and can lead to a significant loss of money. Nevertheless, the losses are not only monetary; customer retention rates are likely to drop as well. All leading project management consultants in the UK will tell you that preparation is the key to success.
Yes, no one wants to make changes to a project halfway through it. However, you are going to be one of the luckiest people on the planet if you get through a project successfully without any changes at all. Projects change all of the time. The best project managers and teams know how to adapt to this efficiently.
Not planning sufficiently
When it comes to managing a project, there is simply no getting around planning, no matter how tedious or boring you may find it. Frustration will kick in without proper planning, as you will end up missing project objectives, falling short of deliverables, exceeding the scope of the project, running over budget, and missing the deadline. This is because there will not be a clear definition of overall goals, what you need to achieve, who has what role, and what they are responsible for. Planning will increase efficiency considerably, and there will be a much better chance of meeting the expectations of the stakeholders.
Another big error you can make, which could cost you your career in project management, is opting to be exclusive. This type of attitude can cause risks to crop in, as it generates a situation whereby team culture is fraught with animosity and trust. There will be a disconnect between you and the team, and this is something that is very difficult to rebuild.
Failure to acknowledge employee performance
Failure to recognise employee work performance through a project review is another common mistake made. The probability of your project being a success will fall if you do not recognise, assess and appropriately reward the work of your employees. You need to get everyone on the team behind the project. Often, employee job performance only reflects the work carried out in accordance to the individual’s job description, and therefore work assigned on a project is rarely assessed. This can cause employees to treat the project as secondary in importance. Therefore, make sure each individual’s role is clear and tell each person how his or her contribution will be evaluated.
Having a know-it-all attitude
This is something that will get you nowhere. In fact, even experienced project managers could benefit from project management training from time to time. Plus, when you can do any sort of training or degree online today, even an MBA study, there is no excuse for not expanding your knowledge or the knowledge of your team. There is always room for learning and growth, and indeed possible error. A lot of project managers get it into their head that they know everything because of their significant amount of responsibility and leadership. However, this attitude can hinder projects, as team members will not receive you very well and you will struggle to get them behind you. In addition, it is not only about learning in terms of doing different training courses and advancing your skill set. It is also about acknowledging any mistakes that have been made in previous projects and learning from these for the future.
Having too many projects in production at the same time
A lot of project managers make the mistake of thinking that it is more productive to start all projects at once. However, the opposite is true. If you have too many projects in production at the same time it is counterproductive. Why? Multitasking leads to a lack of quality and slows people down. Moreover, delays caused will intensify and multiply through the organisation, as individuals further down the line must wait for others to complete prerequisite tasks.
Not having a metric in place to define success
This is another big mistake that a lot of businesses make today when it comes to their projects. After all, how are you supposed to know if your project is heading down the right path if you cannot define success because you do not have any metrics in place? You need to have a clear vision of what the end user is going to be satisfied with and you need to outline relevant goals. If you do not do this, no one is going to have a collective, clear, and consistent understanding of what counts as project success.
Being inflexible and setting overly optimistic timelines
Flexibility is imperative when implementing any project. A lot of project managers make the error of providing overly optimistic timelines and being inadaptable with project tasks and assignments. Don’t turn away new information. Listen to suggestions and be flexible in achieving your goals. When it comes to timelines, be realistic. Missed deadline after missed deadline will only cause further aggravation and distrust on the part of your client.
Setting your project up for failure
There are also a lot of businesses and project managers that set the project up for failure before it has even begun. They do this because they provide deadlines and timelines that are overly optimistic. Yes, you want to lure the client in. But if you do so under false pretenses, it will only backfire in the end.
Not communicating with stakeholders and team members regularly
When you take any project management courses, one of the first things you will learn about is the importance of communicating regularly. In regards to your team, they will feel a lack of leadership and direction if you do not converse with them on a frequent basis. Moreover, executives and stakeholders can lose faith in your ability to make and execute sound judgments.
Failure to seek expert advice
Finally, if your project is failing, don’t be afraid to seek expert help. An outside perspective is always a welcomed one. Often we are determined to put the issues right ourselves, but when you become so involved in a project it can be extremely difficult to see where the real problems lie. A leading project management consultancy will review and troubleshoot your project to ensure it gets back on track and you achieve your goals.
As you can see, there are many different reasons why good projects go bad. Some of the errors that have been mentioned above relate to individual project manager mistakes. Some of them relate to business errors as a whole. Either way, they can all have a negative impact on your projects, which is why it is important to avoid going down these routes.