Mistakes are a common part of life and no matter how hard we try to avoid them, we often find ourselves entangled in one. Being a project manager there might have been times when you would have wondered whether the famous Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will go wrong) was made specifically for project life cycle only.
But, to deliver a project successfully, it is essential for you and your team to keep such errors at bay. Even a miniscule error during the planning phase can snowball into a major blunder during the execution phase of the project lifecycle. Such mistakes can cause varied levels of harm ranging from mild embarrassments to hefty financial losses, and can be disastrous for the business as well as your professional career.
There has been an advent of various tools to help project managers in preventing and managing such mistakes, and even simple project management software can drastically reduce the chances of common glitches.
Whether you are using a software or not, as a project manager you must be able to
- Properly plan the project details and requirements in such a way that errors can’t spring up
- Identify and mitigate mistakes in case they arise at any stage of the life cycle
- Communicate effectively with your team members and other stakeholders in case they point one out
- Admit your own mistakes if you commit one
- Take timely action
- Learn from your mistakes so that they are not repeated in future projects
With that in mind, let’s discuss the five most common yet deadly mistakes that you may encounter during a project’s lifecycle.
Understanding Project Requirements Vaguely
If you don’t have a clear idea of what the client’s requirements are and there is no mutually agreed scope of work, then the project is destined to fail.
You should take your time to thoroughly understand the requirements of the project, the exact deliverables, milestones, timeline, and the payment schedule that has been laid out before the project gets into full swing.
Moreover, there should be absolute clarity about the communication process and the project delivery process as well.
You will not regret the time spent to study and discuss these topics beforehand, as it’ll be much easier for you to manage the expectations of your client, team and other stakeholders.
Poor Risk Management
More often than not, project managers realize their mistake of not assessing a risk at the right time in hindsight. Hence, it is always recommended that you follow a proactive approach instead of a reactive one.
Being a project manager you should be able to anticipate any risks that might arise at a later stage of the project. Additionally, you should be able to evaluate the criticality of these risks so that you can plan to mitigate them timely and effectively.
Prioritizing is important here, because if you waste much of your time on minor risks, then your project delivery would suffer and deadlines might not be met. On the other hand, if a risk poses critical threat to the project, it should be taken up with full-force immediately.
Simple project management software can help you identify such risks preemptively through risk reports.
Managing Team Inefficiently
You have got the requirements figured out clearly, client is eager to work with you and the project work has started. But if your team members are not properly aligned with the project requirements as well as within themselves, you are heading towards a failure only.
The importance of team management can’t be stressed enough and is often the decisive factor in the success or failure of any given project.
Besides, it is essential that the project heads optimize the workload on their respective team members so that none of them are overburdened or under-utilized. While clarity in vision, alignment with project deliverables and leading from the front are vital, you should refrain from micromanaging your team at all costs. Use time tracking software to better manage your team’s workload.
Managing the dynamics of your team is the primary skill that every project manager should possess and in its absence you can’t expect to deliver the project without any delay or a compromised quality of work.
Allowing Scope Creep
Despite stringent efforts to clearly define the scope of a project, there may still be instances when the client demands for some additions to be done midway in the project requirements. These extra value additions are often asked to be accommodated within the pre-decided budget only, hence the name “value for free”.
Project managers must consider scope creep as a risk at all stages of the project lifecycle and be prepared to face such a situation.
First of all, the scope and deliverable shall be understood and discussed clearly during the initiation phase. If such a demand arises even after this, then you should learn to say no and decline their request.
“You should always be clear and vocal in your communications”. You may have heard it numerous times from project management gurus and mentors. So much that you may find it fairly obvious, still, the criticality of crisp and clear communication can’t be stated enough.
Whether your project is going good and would be delivered on time or you are facing some problems in understanding some of its aspects, it is essential to convey the same timely and effectively to all the stakeholders.
Remember to conduct regular meetings with your team members, senior managers and clients to gauge the performance and discuss the progress, risks and roadblocks.
It is essential to decide upon a frequency and medium of communication with the client while defining the scope of the project itself. This way you’ll be able to manage their expectations as well as be prepared on time.
In the end, always remember that we are all humans and it is part of our nature to commit mistakes. But, keeping these errors in check and learning from our experiences is important as well.
Have you experienced any of these mistakes while managing a project?