Did you know that less than 3% of companies actually finish their projects successfully? It is true, and it’s a statistical fact that many informed project managers are aware of. It is also a fact that more than likely keeps project managers up at night.
As a project manager, you’ll take on several critical roles. Every role involved in the project that you are overseeing from start to finish will be your responsibility. That’s right, as the project manager, the burden of every single aspect of the project – right, or wrong – falls on your shoulders, and is ultimately your problem.
Being a project manager means being handed challenging projects in need of solutions that will achieve a positive result. Unfortunately, most of these projects will come with a laundry list of obstacles that can make or break the viability of the project. These obstacles can emerge from both internal and external factors, and often require quick, and innovative solutions to overcome.
So how can a project manager adequately prepare themselves for the many project problems that will almost certainly arise? In this article, we will be discussing some of the most significant project management problems in the modern workplace, as well as how to best prepare for them.
Inadequate Risk Assessment
A project managers job should begin before the project even begins, which means conducting a thorough risk assessment to determine whether or not the project is feasible, which is perhaps one of the biggest challenges that a project manager can face. This is especially true if the project manager is facing various internal issues, such as lack of budget or unrealistic deadlines. It can be a particularly frustrating situation for project managers, especially if they are dealing with poor teamwork, or lack of stakeholder engagement.
One of the biggest mistakes that project managers make when taking on jobs with high-risk factors is a lack of research into the needs of the project. A project manager may recognise right away that the project is going to be riddled with issues that may make a successful outcome impossible. In some cases, the risk may be so high that it may be in the project manager’s (and the company’s) best interests to decline the project altogether. This is obviously a worst-case scenario option, and can often be avoided by having a detailed list of any and all issues that your team members may face, as well as multiple solutions on how to best combat each one of these issues.
In order to be a great project manager, you have to be a fantastic communicator. This fact should be a no-brainer, but lack of communication is often the leading cause of project failure. Too often, projects are negatively affected by poor or unclear communication that leaves the team members, and in some cases, the team leaders, unclear or unaware of their roles and responsibilities within the project. This causes not only confusion but missed or improperly executed tasks within the project.
Project managers need to provide clear and precise direction with every step of the way. This means ensuring that every member of your team is completely clear on their responsibilities within the project.
Do you think you have the skills needed to become a project manager? If so, you may want to look into project management training.
Underqualified or Inadequate Team Members
Often, the team that is assembled for a project is selected based on staff availability. This can prove to be a challenging situation for project managers, especially if the group they are working with are inexperienced in, or are incapable of completing their required tasks. Ideally, a project manager will want to choose team members based on their experience and skill level. However, this is seldom an option for project managers. But when it is, it’s crucial that you thoroughly research all potential team members experience, and strengths, before recruiting them.
Project managers not having a hand in choosing their team members is common, but it doesn’t have to be a giant headache if you’re willing to take the time to really get to know your team. This is why it is so important that you map out all of your team members strengths and weaknesses before the project even starts. This will give you an opportunity not only to choose the best possible tasks for each team member but provide necessary training as well. This will give you the jump on potential issues so they can be combated before they arise. It will also help to get a sense of whether additional staff needs to be added.
Unclear Team Member Expectations
As a project manager, it is critical that your team members fully understand what is expected of them. It is equally important that the project manager fully understands what the team members expect of him/her. This helps to keep everyone on the same page to avoid issues down the road. The most common factors involved with a failed or failing project is confusion or tensions within the group.
This is not surprising when you take into consideration that project teams are made up of several unique individuals who have different skill sets, different work ethics, and most importantly, different personalities. This is why it is so important that project managers have clear and specific duties laid out for their staff before the project begins, as well as enforcing strict deadlines for all team members to abide by.
This will help eliminate confusion within the team, as well as reduce the potential of animosity amongst team members. There are few things as damaging to a project than drama among team members.
This is a common struggle for project managers. On the one hand, they want to complete the project as quickly as possible. On the other, it has to be executed properly in order for the project to succeed. This means setting a deadline that accounts for any and all delays that may occur. More often than not, it is the clients and stakeholders who have chosen the project’s deadline. This leaves the fine details entirely in the hands of the project manager and their team.
The majority of project timelines do slip, and while most clients and stakeholders understand this, it is important to have a meticulously set out a plan in place to avoid any potential obstacles or delays.
If you’re thinking of pursuing a career in project management, or are currently a project manager, and wish to enhance your skills, you may wish to enrol yourself in project management courses. Enrolling in a project management course when you are already in project management is also an excellent way to stay up to date and informed on industry changes.
Choosing The Right Project Management Software
With dozens of project management software options to choose from, deciding on the best one for an upcoming project can prove to be a major headache for project managers. Trying to identify the best possible technology to help your team achieve its objectives is no easy task, yet the right choice can minimise the risk of project management problems developing. First, you have to find a software that falls within the project budget, and then you have to be sure that your team is both qualified and capable of properly utilising that software.
This is where having a brainstorm with your team can be really helpful. This gives the project manager an opportunity to discover what software their team is proficient in, and use this knowledge to choose project management software that their team will be most comfortable using. It will also provide necessary insight into any team member training that may be needed.
Lack of Accountability
This, unfortunately, is a common occurrence in today’s modern workforce. Accountability, or lack thereof, is a major factor in the breakdown of virtually every project. Lack of accountability only rears its ugly head when the ball has been dropped. Unfortunately, this is exactly the time when accountability is most important, as it will help to determine when and how the problem occurred. This information is necessary for not only finding a solution to the problem but ensuring that the problem does not happen again.
One way a project manager can ensure accountability within the team is by requesting regular progress reports from all team members or team leaders. This establishes consistent accountability within the team and reduces the risk of team members being in a position to pass the buck when mistakes occur.
Poorly Defined Goals
Poorly defined goals often stem from internal corporate issues. And while these issues usually have nothing to do with the project manager themselves, it will be his/her job to overcome them. More often than not, project managers will attempt to overcome these issues without involving the clients and stakeholders, this is a common project management mistake that can cause absolute chaos and confusion in a project, and in many cases be the underlying cause for the projects ultimate failure.
Having a kick-off meeting with team members, as well as clients and stakeholders beforehand will ensure that all team members are on the same page. Project managers can also take advantage of various planning software, and team- collaboration apps, to help assist all members of the team in thoroughly understanding their obligations.
Lack of Contingency Plan
Even the most expertly planned project can develop project management problems. Actually, let’s rephrase that – All projects come with hiccups. It is for this reason that project managers should always have a contingency plan in place, several if you really want to cover your bases. As mentioned previously in this article, having a kick-off meeting with your team members is an excellent way to make sure that everyone’s roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. It is also a great way for the team to brainstorm contingency plans for any hurdles or setbacks that may arise.
Lack of Resources
Lack of resources within a project is every project managers nightmare. Unfortunately, it is an obstacle that seasoned project managers are more than familiar with. This is where proper risk assessment can be a highly effective way to overcome projects that have limited resources. Being informed of a projects shortcomings before the project commences will give the project managers, and their team, the opportunity to come up with alternative solutions for the resources that they are lacking.
Going over budget is common with project management, and in many cases, unavoidable. But what about working with a budget that is tight to begin with? This a common problem that project managers often face in today’s modern workplace. This is due in part to the fiercely competitive modern workplace climate. This causes budgetary constraints that can often negatively impact the success of the project. In fact, the majority of projects that fail, do so as a result of poor financial planning, or lack of funds needed to get the project to its completion.
When embarking on any project, the organisation that is implementing it the project will need to deal with law and legislation requirements, Many projects, for example, may involve working abroad, which involves a myriad of legal contracts in order to move forward. There will also be industry-specific legislation that will need to be followed. Determining which legal systems to be employed for a project is a mandatory step that is sometimes overlooked. This is an oversight that can have crippling consequences for a project. It is therefore imperative that project managers are aware of what legal steps need to be taken before beginning the project at hand.
Project management requires a high level of patience and problem-solving skills. It requires an individual who is both willing, and able, to analyse both setbacks and failures within a project, and then implement the lessons learned to make more informed decisions not only throughout the current project but for future projects as well. The aforementioned project management problems faced in today’s modern workplace may seem intimidating, but they are common problems that project managers have overcome time and again.
When it comes to good project management, being prepared is key. With proper planning and preparation, even the most intricate, and complicated project can have a successful outcome.