Project management is a phrase that rarely goes without a reaction. The methodologists are usually happy to bring their theories to light, however, most of us do not feel the same. The reasons why people feel some sort of negativity towards the concept are various and often from their personal experience – bad project manager, seemingly endless process, no defined goals, etc. However, the root cause of any problem seems to always linger around the same pitfalls.
1. Defining the goals
First and foremost when working on a project, we want to know what we are trying to achieve. Clearly knowing our end goal, makes us feel like a part of it and motivates us to do everything in our power to get there. However, what happens with most teams is that the goals are not communicated and instead the day-to-day tasks are focused on. While it is important to know the short term tasks, it is even more important to communicate the end goal to the team. Only that will keep them focused, motivated and steer them into the right direction for the project.
When completing the project, the coordination of the team is very important. If the team members have clearly defined roles and tasks, they can coordinate and keep the project on track themselves. For the most teams out there however, the project coordination is done by the project manager alone, keeping the team out of the loop. This causes friction between the team members and brings inability to coordinate themselves even for small tasks. Therefore it is important to define roles, assign tasks and meet the whole team from time to time to update them on the project progress.
One of the most crucial parts when completing a project is effective communication. The team members, project manager and stakeholders need to have a seamless way of communicating on the project progress. However, what often happens is that communication between them is very structured and delayed. Instead of communicating the problem right away, there is a need to wait for meetings or to go through various levels of management. This means that the issues which could be solved instantly are put away until the next meeting to be dealt with, which delays the whole project itself.
A lot of projects struggle to meet the deadlines, creating an uneasy atmosphere in the team and adding to the stress level. This often happens partly because of lack of coordination and communication, however, even a bigger part of delays is caused by lack of realistic planning. Project managers tend to present the team with deadlines without consulting them first or simply generated to please the client. However, when doing this, they fail to realize the demotivating factor it has. A team faced with unrealistic deadline may try to achieve it once or twice, however in the long run, they will lose their spirit and will feel mistreated by their manager.
5. Stakeholder engagement
More accurately a lack of stakeholder engagement. A team member, project manager or the client that is not really engaged in the project, does bring a lot of negativity into the process itself. For the most part, these projects still get to the finish line, however it is done in a slower and more painful way. Simply making sure that all the team members are motivated to complete the project will save a lot of time and energy of dragging the project to completion with a dead weight.
Do you encounter these or other project management pitfalls? Put them into your comments below.