Whether you have built a career in project management or are just starting in this field, it's clear that project management isn't as easy as it seems.
You constantly need to be one step ahead of everything, ensuring the project remains within all the previously-agreed constraints like budget, scope, and time.
Even though companies have multiple available resources, PM tools, flexible methodologies, and training materials, they still spend millions of dollars and struggle to identify and overcome project management challenges.
In this article, we will tackle common challenges in PM and show you how to deal with them when they arise.
What makes a project successful?
Many projects are doomed if project managers and organizations ignore details. A project must be clearly defined in the mission statement to succeed.
This document clarifies everything for the project team and stakeholders. But what factors affect this process? We will discuss that in a bit!
Factors affecting project management
While there is no magic formula to ensure project success, certain factors can keep your project on track.
Communication. Open communication is one of the common challenges in project management. Your team must know what's expected of them and feel free to come to you if they face some issue. On the other hand, your team needs to be well-informed on things happening with the project, and communication is the correct answer to it. You need to communicate with your client as well so that they're always updated.
Planning. Careful planning will determine your project's success. Planning involves establishing a schedule, estimating the costs, allocating resources, setting milestones, and agreeing on the deliverables. As your project moves along, the plan will highlight potential issues.
The right people. Having the right team of people around will only drive the project forward. Everyone on the team will have their responsibilities and a shared vision. A team that isn't working as a unit can provoke a lot of issues for a project. So, make sure your team members are on board and are involved as a group.
Mitigation and risk management. No project goes as planned, so implementing risk management and planning will help your team reassure stakeholders. If you anticipate potential risk in the planning stage, you will ensure your team has an action plan to follow should that risk arise. It would be wise to share these potential risks with your clients and the team to show them you are prepared for every situation. Moreover, your team will feel more confident knowing there is an action plan.
Handover and closure. Your client must know when the project will be done and transferred. It's your job to establish crucial success factors at the beginning of the project, and as the end approaches, you need to demonstrate that these factors have been met.
Why do project managers fail?
Failure can happen for many reasons, and based on some estimates, only 26% of all projects succeed. It's not that project managers are bad. Most of the time, the problem lies in the tools, channels, methods, or people you work with.
Here's a shortlist of project management challenges and solutions designed to help project managers succeed.
Impossible deadlines. This is one of the biggest mistakes that project managers make. They tend to set up unworkable deadlines due to lack of experience, biased decisions, or being under pressure. To solve this issue, get input from your team and stakeholders on how long it takes to finish a specific task. While this might be time-consuming, your efforts will pay off when establishing a realistic timeline.
Lack of proper skills on the project team. As a project manager, you can create a perfect environment, but your project will fail if your team doesn't possess the necessary skills to tackle the issue. Therefore, you need to determine your team's skills and evaluate the available workforce to see whether you require additional staff and skillsets.
No clear project goals. According to one study, nearly 39% of projects fail because project goals aren't clearly defined. Project managers need to set up quality tests and milestones. Also, by having clear project goals, project managers can define their vision more precisely to the upper management. Popular approaches include Clear and Smart, which can help project managers set up effective goals right from the start.
Ineffective communication. As we mentioned earlier, effective communication is crucial for project success. It needs to be timely and transparent and ensure that all stakeholders are involved in this process. Miscommunication leads to failure and can cause conflict among team members. You can rely on PM software or project collaboration tools to improve communication and ensure transparency.
Poor resource management. Resource management continues to be a significant challenge in the business world. Many companies struggle with budgeting and getting enough resources. That's why sometimes project managers are forced to work with people who aren't skilled enough. The only solution to this problem is to assign each task to a professional with the necessary skills to tackle the issue.
Budget problems. By running efficient cost management, a manager can bypass different complications a project may face and go for quicker and better results. To avoid dealing with poor cost management, it's absolutely necessary to adopt budgeting procedures and make realistic estimates to prevent cost overruns.
Improper risk management. Even the best project managers can't predict every single risk and how it will affect the project. You may have a perfect project plan, but unforeseen events will jeopardize a project. That's why risk management strategies help project managers identify risks, categorize them, calculate the likelihood those risks will happen, and create measures on how to address risks.
Lack of accountability. The team performs well when every member feels responsible. If part of the team lacks accountability, it will sink the entire project. A project manager should assign responsibilities to particular team members and direct them towards successfully finishing the project.
Workflow management. Workflow management involves identifying, organizing, and coordinating a particular set of tasks to accomplish the desired goal. To save your project from failure, make sure to work on identification first and then focus on the other two components, organization and coordination.
What should project managers avoid?
Businesses are mostly accustomed to their projects being delayed or derailed for so many different reasons.
If you want to ensure the success of your project, make sure to avoid the following mistakes:
- Working on too many projects simultaneously
- Not having enough meetings
- Changing the scope
- Lack of flexibility in project management
- Setting up unrealistic deadlines
- Not following changes
- Relying too much on PM software