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5 project management mistakes to avoid, and how to solve them

If your company is project-based, you probably have a framework or system in place for how you manage each project within your team. But even the most robust project management system will occasionally encounter a snafu.

It’s what you do when your project goes wrong that says the most about your leadership, as well as demonstrates whether your project management system is as good as it could be. Here are five of the most common project management mistakes, and how you can solve them:

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Project Mistake 1: The Wrong Person is in Charge

I firmly believe that everyone is capable of managing a project if they put their mind to it, but the truth is that different people have different strengths, and some people are much better behind the reins than others.

The wrong manager for a project can have disastrous results. Decisions don’t get made when they need to be, tasks aren’t managed effectively because the leader lacks experience, or the manager doesn’t have the skills required to understand the scope or details.

Project Management Solution: During the early stages of a project, when you’re thinking about resources allocation, remember that you should also be thinking about allocating the right people to the roles within that project. Your people are resources, too. So make sure the job is going to the right person, not just the first name on a list.

Project Mistake 2: No Comprendez

Sometimes, a project will make perfect sense in the head of one person, and be complete jibberish to another team member. If anyone on the project doesn’t understand what they’re meant to be doing, or - most importantly - the desired outcome for the project, then it’s going to be hard to get ideal results.

Often, managers are in such a hurry to get started, they neglect to take the time to brief everyone on the project parameters. Or the brief won’t include the details that every stakeholder needs.

Project Management Solution: At the beginning of every project, no matter how small or commonplace, gather together everyone involved and run through the goals and deliverables. Make sure everyone understands their role and the desired outcomes before you say GO!

Project Mistake 3: Danger, Project Overload!

It’s a common fallacy among managers that if you want to get a lot of work done, you should put all your projects into production at once. That way, progress is always being made toward all your goals.

The reality is that too many ongoing projects can leave your team feeling burnt out. Multi-tasking across multiple projects actually leads to a loss of productivity, as constantly shifting gears causes the brain to slow down in order to process all the new tasks required. Multiply this by all the people involved in a project across your company, and you’re going to have several delays.

Project Management Solution: Of course, depending on the type of company you’re in, it’s probably impossible to eliminate many of these projects. But try to decrease Work-in-Progress by 25%. You may be surprised at how much faster tasks are completed with less work out there.

Project Mistake 4: Scope Changing

The issue of scope is often related to issue 2, above, but it can have other origins; external stakeholders adding further work to the projects, individual team members inflating their contributions, and clients misunderstanding what is or isn’t included in the project.

Scope-creep is one of the most devastating issues to strike a project, as it can quickly derail your timeline and budget, and you might not even notice until it’s too late.

Project Management Solution: A proper client-onboarding process will ensure that your client will understand exactly what they’re paying for, and how extra work is charged. It can also be good to include project documentation and a breakdown of costs in your initial estimate - clients can read through this information to better understand your process.

Frequent monitoring of the project through your project management software will ensure that the project remains on schedule and within the original parameters.

Project Mistake 5: Micromanaging the Project

You are a manager, not a babysitter. You don’t need to be part of every single decision or oversee every single stage of the process. Micromanaging has a negative impact on every part of a project - your team will resent you, your client will get the impression that their project is much bigger and more difficult than they thought, and you won’t have any time to get your own work done.

That’s not even mentioning the stress-lines micromanaging gives you. Yuck.

Project management solution: You need to trust the team you’ve built. I know it can be hard, but step back and let your expert team take the lead. Appoint someone within the team to take ownership of the project, and let it be known from the onset that you’ll be checking in at pre-ordained times for updates. Then, let your team go to do what they do best.

When a project runs smoothly, magic happens. You and your team feel completely in-sync (without the cheesy boy-band references). You can produce something amazing for your client. But the true test of a project management system is what happens when something goes wrong. We hope you’ve found some direction for heading off some of the more common project management problems.

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