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10 Most Typical Pitfalls in Project Management and Ways to Avoid Them

A good project is something that unites plenty of details. It consists of a skilled manager and a team that performs tasks. It includes a circumspect plan that covers all major as well as minor issues and many more other crucial things.

These «many more other crucial things» are integral part of any project be it something simple or vice versa, complicated. In any case, projects may face a variety of pitfalls. And an experienced manager should know how to avoid pitfalls that are so likely to be met on the way to project accomplishment.

Pitfalls in project management

In this article I cover problematic points that jeopardize successful project fulfilment. One can single out even more pitfalls. As for me, I decided to go into details with 10 issues that are typical for most projects.

What are pitfalls in project management?

Pitfalls definition is quite clear. They are any things or processes that hinder your project from successful accomplishment. They have different nature, but according to some common features these problematic points can be united into groups.

So, what are they?

1. Poor communication

Number 1 point in any project. I would say even more – communication is the driving force in great majority of situations that happen in the world. It is very important to have a constant talk with each member. Thus a manager gets ongoing feedback, updates colleagues and simply shows that he is not a boss with tough management style, but a leader who can discuss even yesterdays’ TV-show.

Ways to improve

Choose proper channels of communication. If you create a chat in a messenger, make sure everyone involved is presented there. Or if you need to have instant communication, do not write emails as it is time consuming and ineffective for quick conversation.

Do not forget about conversation face to face. Hold meetings on a regular basis and choose the right way to speak to your colleagues.

Communication in project management

2. Lack of trust and delegation

A manager should remember that a project is not only about him. It is his team that also performs tons of tasks. It shouldn’t sound surprising but everyone involved in a project is responsible for it. So it’s better not to take all tasks for yourself with minimal level of delegation. Such a management manner says only one thing – a manager doesn’t trust his colleagues.

Ways to improve

To avoid this pitfall in project management, a manager can delegate tasks to people who will do their best to accomplish them. Moreover, trust and delegation has a psychological impact on participants. They boost morale and everyone feels like a part of a team and not just gears in a complicated device.

Listen to your people and consider their opinion.

3. Unclear roles, responsibilities and deliverables

To be aware where everything goes, everyone has to know roles and responsibilities as well as what is expected at the end of a project. It is necessary to have everything clarified from the very beginning. Thus teams get more organized and self-managed.

Ways to improve

Hold a meeting at the very beginning where all expectations and overall course will be set. Put all critical information down in a project scope statement. You are free to refer to this document at any project stage when there is a need to clarify things and not to let everything go in the wrong direction.

Roles cut

4. A poorly created project plan

Pitfalls of planning in management also include a project plan, or, more precisely, a poorly created one.

What is a project plan? It is a formal document where all decisions with project scope and other relevant information are included. A skillfully prepared plan answers all questions about a project, therefore, its preparation requires deep knowledge and skills from a manager. But in the end it avoids from unnecessary pitfalls.

Ways to improve

Do not even try to manage projects without a made up in advance plan. Be aware that it should answer the following questions: why?, what?, who? and when?

If something goes wrong, it may lead to pitfalls and project scope creep that implies uncontrolled changes and growth of initially planned scope.

5. Lack of breaking down projects into smaller tasks

Projects are usually huge and long-term. You will probably agree that with an intangible task that is supposed to be finished in a few months, it is difficult to bestir yourself to work. It is the psychological moment that inheres in human beings.

Way to improve

To avoid these pitfalls in project management, divide all work into pieces with clear short-term time limits, clear objectives and tools to perform them. Thus you create atmosphere where team members feel comfortable about manageable tasks and time limits. A task that takes only a week sounds better that a 3-months project, doesn’t it?

Pitfalls in project management

6. Weak resource management

Resources also make up projects. They have different nature. Some of them are material like equipment. Some of them refer to labor force that consists of all team members. Other resources are based on costs.

Ways to improve

What concerns labor force, it is pretty easy to avoid one of the common pitfalls in project management. Make sure you custom your working days in advance and in details. Consider all working days, days-off and vacations. Remember, resource management is as important as any other activity in a project. There is no insignificant detail in it.

Also, make sure all resources are allocated according to their abilities. Reallocate them if needed.

7. No attention to people management

Project scope, costs, deliverables, deadlines… too many managers stuck in them thus creating environment for other project pitfalls. They simply forget about people who actually do all the work. Proper team management leads to better communication and understanding within a project. And vice versa, lack of people management leads to wrong task fulfilment and missed deadlines.

Way to improve

Actually, this point is similar to the first one where communication was described. Speak to your colleagues, remind everyone how his or her role is important for successful project fulfilment without project management pitfalls. Hold meetings with team participants for everyone to get a clear picture, and for stakeholders to provide better project stakeholder management.

Pitfalls in project management

8. Inappropriate risk management

It may sound surprising to someone or even daunting, but risks will occur, no matter how perfectly everything looked like at the beginning. Risks are one of the pitfalls in project management that are highly likely to happen at any stage. But what a manager can do is to apply one of the 10 project management skills of every successful manager, foresee them and be prepared for them.

Ways to improve

Do your best and calculate as many risks as possible from the very beginning. Share your ideas with your team members, report them all results of your calculations and prepare them for each situation, even the worst one. The more they know about risks and ways how to conduct themselves, the better it is for the whole project.

9. Faked or not realistic deadlines

This is a point all about psychology. Bosses and managers usually set faked deadlines with almost unrealistic time limits that will be followed by real ones. Here is what they think: it is hard to meet a faked deadline, but my team members think that this is a real one what will make them to do their best to complete tasks. After that, realizing that there is still some time gap before a real one, they are definitely supposed to finish them in time.

Ways to improve

Give up the practice of setting faked deadlines. It is a slippery slope. Once colleagues notice that a manager adheres to the practice of setting faked deadlines, they may once and for all stop to believe a manager. It is a tricky project pitfall that every leader should avoid.

10. Not using or using inefficient project management tool

A project manager without a special tool is like a hunter without a gun. It is almost impossible to remember and manage everything, especially in multiple projects environment.

Gantt chart software

Therefore, the right choice of a tool is a crucial point that helps to forget about many tricky pitfalls. GanttPRO Gantt chart software allows managers and team members to keep project tracks, be aware of start and end dates of each task, effectively allocate resources and simply collaborate with team members or stakeholders.

Have you ever been in situations where described above pitfalls in project management ruined your plans? Probably, you have been in situation that was not described here? Please, share your comments with us!

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