Common Project Management Pitfalls

Project Management Pitfalls to Watch out for

Nuvro Project Management Blog

Successful project management presents many challenges, even for the most experienced project managers. Forewarned is forearmed, as the saying goes, so below we detail several of the most common project management pitfalls you are likely to encounter and some steps you can take to avoid them.

Getting Sidetracked by Distractions

Project management pitfalls to avoid

While various issues may arise daily that must be dealt with, be careful to avoid getting derailed by distractions that don’t contribute to accomplishing your selected tasks. With the phone ringing, emails incoming, and people stopping by your desk there are plenty of ways you can be distracted from doing what you should be doing.

The barrage of distractions that you constantly face while trying to complete tasks can frustrate you by making it difficult to complete scheduled tasks in the allotted time. Rather than continually missing deadlines because of this, adjust your task completion timelines to reflect the fact that there will likely be interruptions and distractions along the way – this enables you to more accurately allot your time on a task by task basis.

Another tactic for dealing with distractions caused by interruptions or other activity is to geographically separate yourself from the source of these distractions. If you are working in a cubicle, see if you can use an office where you can close the door. If you are working at home, close the door of your office or move to a quieter location, either at home or at another location where you can work remotely.

You Collaborate with a Client on a Project and They Constantly Change Their Mind

Giving all project stakeholders a chance to provide input is generally a good way to increase the chances that everyone will be happy with the outcome once the project is finished. However, when working with clients who frequently change their mind about project objectives, too much collaboration may not necessarily be a good thing. Constant client change requests can unduly delay completion and increase the cost of a project. Even if the client only has a few change requests, if they involve significant adjustments and occur far enough into the process they can seriously impede project implementation.

To minimize the disruption caused by changing client requirements, consider adding decision points into the project planning process. This allows you to build a certain amount of flexibility into the project implementation process, making it less disruptive to make changes to the project plan when called for. If a client tries to take advantage of this flexibility by asking for changes to the project outside the scope of the decision points, you may need to explain that beyond a certain point change orders will result in added costs to the client.

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Failure to Meet Business Needs

It can be tempting to overload a project with features that are flashy or desirable but don’t directly meet the business needs of your company or of the customer. When prioritizing project tasks, rigorously review each task regarding the business justification which underlies it. Only those tasks that directly meet business needs should be given priority. If the project is proceeding under budget and ahead of schedule, then want-to-haves can be included along with the must-haves. But the must-haves should have clear priority over any discretionary items.

When project implementation is slowed down or goes off course because of time spent on non-essential tasks, this is known as project drift. To avoid this, spend as much time on a project’s implementation plan as you spend on the strategic plan. This ensures that the project’s end result will match the strategic goals established for it instead of going off plan in the implementation phase.

Consult with the client to make sure the project is designed to adequately meet their business needs. This helps avoid the development of a disconnect between how you view the project and how the client views it. It also facilitates increased client buy-in of the project as a whole. The client knows their business better than anyone, so asking them to help define how the project can satisfy their business objectives is a good way of making sure your strategy is well-suited to meeting those needs.

Delays in Client Cooperation Slow Project Progress

When your client has a ton of stuff going on, it can be difficult to get them to focus on making decisions related to your project. In some cases, the issue may be that the person you are working with at the client firm does not consider the project a priority – it may not be integral to their job description or to their compensation or performance review at the company they work for.

To avoid a situation where a client delays project progress, one solution is to be very careful about the clients you work with. If you favor clients who are clearly invested in the project at all levels of the company, you are much less likely to have to endure long delays from disinterested clients.

Make sure to ask who you will be interfacing with while implementing a project. The person the client assigns to the task can give you an idea of how seriously the client takes the project, based on both their rank and seniority within the company and how excited they are to work with you on the project. Whatever the case, you should make every effort to keep the project’s assigned liaison engaged with the project implementation process by keeping them up-to-date on major project developments.

Poor Client Communication Leading to Underperforming Expectations

As a project manager, communicating with the client is one of your most important responsibilities. In addition to enabling you to make timely changes to the project, it helps you perform the crucial task of managing expectations. Doing so helps avoid situations where you believe that you have met all applicable guidelines when completing a project, only to find that the client’s expectations for the project have not been met.

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