As a leader in your workplace, it’s your duty to plan and organise resources, to stay within budget, to meet requirements of the business and to make sure people finish projects on time. Even if you are great at delegating tasks and juggling several different jobs at once, ensuring your project is a success can still be a challenge.
And in today’s fast-paced world of business, often times being a “project manager” is just another necessary skill in your overall job title. However, the more work you take on and the more projects you undertake, the harder it is to manage the project correctly.
In order to better understand the essentials of project management, it’s helpful to breakdown the job into five main steps:
- Initiating: set the project in motion by developing an end goal
- Planning: develop a step-by-step plan to reach your goal
- Executing: delegate tasks to team members that will help you execute your plan
- Monitoring and Controlling: keep track of your team members to ensure they are meeting their individual goals
- Closing: tie up all loose ends and finish your project on-time
Whether you are new to project management or have been managing projects for years, understanding the common pitfalls that stand in the way of project success will help you avoid mistakes and reach your end-goal without hold-ups or complications.
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1. Poor planning
The biggest issues typically occur during step 2 of the planning phase. Without properly planning how you’re going to reach your end-goal, you’ll face setbacks throughout the entire process. Are you missing milestones or having difficulties getting all stakeholders to approve your planning? Perhaps you realise you’re lacking the proper resources to reach your goal. These are common signs that you’ve planned poorly.
If you’ve realised you didn’t plan accordingly, there are still steps you can take to recover before all is lost. Consider sitting down and mapping out the entire life cycle of your project. This can help you readjust your schedule; update reachable milestones, reset deliverable states and alter your budget worksheet to work with your new timeline. Having an updated map of how you’ll meet your goal will reassure your stakeholders that your project will be a success.
2. Manual process
Are you creating team schedules by scratch or sending individual emails to assign work? Do you find yourself spending hours making deadlines, scheduling meetings or building reports? If so, you are probably doing way more physical, manual labor than necessary - meaning you’re not making valuable use of your resources.
To make this process more efficient, keep all documents, like task assignments, deadlines, etc., in one central location. By doing this, you won’t have to start from scratch every time you take on a new project. Consider looking into special software that allows each contributor or stakeholder to log in and see the status of every aspect of the project that concerns them.
3. Insufficient tools
Modern-day technology can be your best friend when managing a project; however, it can also be your biggest enemy. Email, internet, spreadsheets, smartphone apps, cloud-based programs; experts estimate that project managers use up to 13 methods to manage your project.
Instead of juggling several different methods, choose one management system that will work for all of them. This will likely be a single, cloud-based, standardised platform that can handle all of your management needs.
4. Lack of monitoring and correction
As noted in five essentials steps of project management, monitoring and correcting your progress along the way is essential. If you don’t hold reviews until the end of the project, you’ll never be able to touch base with team members or stockholders to assess any issues or concerns with the project.
You will also never be able to highlight what went right and what went wrong.
To prevent misunderstandings or complications from happening in your project, establish goals and milestones that matter to stakeholders. Use these goals to measure your success (opens in new tab) and track progress throughout your project. By examining your progress in small portions, you’ll be able to quickly and easily make adjustments to budgets, tasks, allocation of resources and much more.
5. Command-and-control thinking
Even if you are the most experienced project manager or use the most powerful work management software solution, it’s not going to help if every member of your team isn’t on board with the same goals and similar ways of thinking.
To fix this, it’s important to encourage every employee to think and act like a project manager. This means expecting your team to communicate effectively, collaborate with each other, delegate tasks and ask for help if needed, proof documents, report progress, adjust problems, and much more.
Brooke Cade, Freelance Writer at Workfront (opens in new tab)
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