Project management can be a minefield—and it requires teamwork, communication, awareness and competence to navigate. We’ve all encountered projects failing needlessly owing to a range of reasons. So what are the primary causes of project breakdowns? Here, we’ve compiled a list of the eight most common project management pitfalls to overcome on the path to success.
1. Poor Communication
Communication is not only the key to success but essential when it comes to delegating tasks to team members. The key issue? Ensuring people are working on the correct tasks 100% of the time. If there is any drop in communication or accessibility, then you risk losing hours of productivity and compromising quality. Sometimes when project managers are faced with a tight deadline, they invest less time in communicating with their team, which paves the way for confusion and errors. This deadly sin is easy to overcome, however. By setting up regular meetings, you’ll be able to give your taskforce a platform to discuss and raise any concerns along the way. A quick daily “stand-up” meeting is a great option for many projects. And the minimal time you lose in productivity will be made up for as you keep everybody on the same page.
2. Failure to Prepare
…is preparing to fail. And it’s frustratingly common in project management. This issue is often brought on by time management issues or incompetence and can be a sure-fire avenue to a botched project or a missed deadline caused by glaring errors. As with the deadly sin of poor communication, some project managers ignore or skimp on preparations in a bid to save time, but the risk of coming out of the project with a poor end-product is too high to ignore. Be sure to counter this deadly sin by allocating sufficient time at the fledgling stages of a project to planning and preparation. Consider time management tools like Todoist, Trello and Kanbanchi.
Complacency affects even the most competent figures in business, so it’s no surprise that it’s also a deadly sin of project management. Even when things are going well on a project, it’s important to keep yourself braced for any curveballs that fate might throw at you. Employee illnesses or server outages can cause huge delays to the smoothest of projects, so the best course of action is to remain focused and to maintain momentum until your work is complete.
4. Rushed Work
It pays to keep the client in mind. While it’s tempting to cut corners in order to stay ahead of schedule, it also has serious consequences for your client and their satisfaction with the end product. No project manager sets out to do a bad job, but this deadly sin manifests itself as managers fear that they’ve run out of time to work coherently and at the standard that’s required.
Effective planning, troubleshooting and delegation of responsibilities is the best vaccine to rushed, shoddy work. As long as your time is well-managed and you explain to your team their tasks in a calm and patient manner, then there should be no risk of substandard output.
Project management has never been easy, but ignorance of any issues is sure to only compound your problems. This deadly sin applies to all aspects of a project—from inception to completion.
Regular communication with your team is essential. If you’re approached by someone working on your project with concerns, no matter what they are, make sure you address them. Even if you feel they’re irrelevant, explain your solution and keep staff members motivated and confident in their work. The most successful project managers are hands-on and stay abreast of all operations within their project. Don’t suffer from the deadly sin of avoiding aspects of the task at hand, or just as worse, showing apathy towards them.
6. Neglecting Client Needs
When you’re deeply immersed in a long-term project, you may forget that you’re working for a client who needs a well-working end-product that suits them—not your team or your schedule. Losing focus, or failing to communicate effectively with the people who commissioned your project, could cost you much more than a deadline. It could cost clients and the revenue stream that comes with them too. Remember: Always make yourself available to clients and approach your work objectively. Ask yourself if your strategies are acceptable and whether the end-product will be satisfactory to those who matter most.
7. Improper Risk Assessment
Effective risk assessment takes time, but it’s arguably the most important ingredient for managing a successful project to a deadline. Again, it’s all too common in project management to dismiss the risk assessment stage, either through complacency or as a way of cutting corners to save time. In reality, however, it’s only by addressing potential problems that you build a successful end-product.
As with the planning stage, allocate a sufficient amount of time for this phase, and work with your team to create troubleshooting measures.
8. Lack of Teamwork
Good teamwork critical, and you won’t be much of a project manager if you can’t build and manage your team effectively. The risks that come when you don’t focus on teamwork is poor delegation of responsibilities, very little task management, no communication and zero awareness of project progress.
Here, it’s important to hold regular team meetings that allow all voices to be heard and worries to be addressed. Encourage your team to communicate with each other on their tasks and look to integrate everybody who is working on your project regularly to build faith and familiarity in each other.
Vladimir Yakimenko is CEO, investor and founder of Kanbanchi, a popular project management add-on for G Suite with more than 80,000 active users.