11 common mistakes in project management

Posted by Niall Sullivan

24-Apr-2017 08:00:00

11 common mistakes in project managementMistakes happen in every walk of life. At work, at home, during projects. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t make them!

As we all know, it’s how you respond to these mishaps that’s important. In fact, one study has suggested that mistakes can make you smarter and that the way you react makes a big difference in whether you learn from them or not.

With this in mind, I thought you would find it useful if we listed the more common mistakes in project management. Although there is no way to cover every possible mistake you might make, (wouldn’t that be nice,) these 11 points will at least give you an overview of the ones you are more likely to encounter and how they can be overcome.

Relevant project plan (to its target audience)

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Your project plan needs be clear enough to be understood by all of the key users of the project plan, including you as the project manager, your team members, your project sponsor and your PMO.

However, each individual group will not want to see the same amount of information. For example, your project sponsor will only want an overview of the key milestones while your team members will need a more in-depth document, detailing what tasks need to be completed and by when.

Takeaway: When creating your project plan, also put together a separate version that only covers the key milestones so you cater for all audiences.

Not engaging employees

Are your team members truly engaged with your project? If not, you might not be getting the most out of them.

One study from the Workplace Research Foundation has suggested that highly engaged employees are 38% more likely to have above-average productivity. Imagine how much quicker tasks could be completed if your team were fully engaged with their work?

Takeaway: Download our tip sheet of key methods of employee engagement. Are there any methods that you can utilise with your own team?

Too much micromanagement

Picture the scene. You’re constantly being interrupted and asked about the progress of a task or a piece of work. All you can think about is how much quicker you could get it done if you weren’t being asked questions every 5 minutes.

Let’s be honest, no-one likes to be micromanaged. It shows a lack of trust and eventually turns team members into robots, who wait to be told what to do all the time rather than use their own initiative.

Takeaway: Take a step back and allow your team members to work without interference. Use meetings and conference calls to check in and see how they’re getting on periodically.

Resisting change

Resisting change

Change is common in the world of project management. Whether a budget has been altered or a key stakeholder has moved roles, you should always be prepared for the unexpected.

But why do people resist change? For managers, this could be a loss of control, having more work to do (and there therefore pressure,) or not knowing whether they are competent enough to handle the sudden change.

Takeaway: One study has suggested that being actively involved in the change helped employees overcome their resistance to it.

Lack of stakeholder engagement strategy

Without doubt, how well you engage your stakeholders when managing a project is critical to its success.

If you get it right, you can expect to deliver more customers, better-formulated strategy, well managed projects, innovation and much more. Who doesn’t want that?!

Creating a strategy can effectively be split into four parts:

  • Analyse your stakeholders
  • Define your purpose
  • Map available tools to identified stakeholders
  • Choose the most appropriate methods and technologies

Takeaway: Use our blog post as a guide to create your own stakeholder engagement strategy.

Unable to say no

Whether it’s a friend, a family member or your boss asking for a favour, it is never easy to say no.

But sometimes you just have to. When you’re managing a project and got so much to do, you have to be selfish at times. Let’s face it, the only person who is going to get blamed if deadlines are missed is you.

Takeaway: When saying no to a request, give yourself some time to think about it. Then if you don’t have the time to help, offer to contribute in a different way or ask whether you can help at a later date when you have more time.

Managing too many projects

It’s very rare as a project manager that you will only be managing one project at a time.

With only 2.5% of companies saying that they successfully completed 100% of their projects, you are already facing an uphill battle to successfully complete one project, let alone multiple ones.

But what happens when you take too many projects on? Well for a start the quality of your work will suffer. This then leads to unhappy stakeholders and on a personal level, a huge amount of stress.

Takeaway: Download our checklist that has actionable tips on how to manage multiple projects.

Not using collaboration software

Not using collaboration software

Hopefully you and your team actively collaborate with each other. If not, then you’re not alone. According to Cornerstone, 38% of workers feel there is not enough collaboration in the workplace.

One way to change this, is by using cloud collaboration software. The leading providers allow users to edit documents in real-time, create tasks lists, organise their time using calendars and much more.

Using this software also means that you can end the over reliance on email – which is a known productivity killer.

Takeaway: Start looking for and researching different collaboration software providers. Use our guide which includes ten questions to ask a potential supplier to help you.

No project communication plan

The statistics about the importance of good communication to a project speak for themselves, with 56% of money spent on a project is at risk due to ineffective communications.

That is a vast amount of money being wasted. With senior executives and project sponsors breathing down your neck, you will need to come up with a plan of action to ensure that all the key stakeholders are communicated with effectively.

Takeaway: Take a look at our blog post that explains what you need to include in your project communication plan.

Not managing your time effectively

Do you feel overworked? That you don’t have enough time in a day to get everything done?

If so, you’re not alone. It’s a fact that 70% of workers feel as though they have too much work on their plates. No surprise there!

Although as a project manager your workload is unlikely to ease, managing your time more effectively will help you to plan your day and stay on track.

Takeaway: Read our blog post about the importance of time management to project success.

Too many meetings

This is a fairly common concern amongst project management professionals and other office based employees alike.

They have good reason to be aggrieved. With the time that employees are spending in meetings rising around 10% each year it is becoming more and more difficult for them to complete tasks and meet deadlines on time.

Of course, not all meetings are a waste of time. But for each one where you’re an active participant and actually learn something, there are ones where you are twiddling your thumbs watching the clock slowly tick down and not contributing anything.

Takeaway: Before you setup your next meeting, think. Do you need a meeting to cover your point, or could you simply pick up the phone or send them a message instead?

Topics: collaboration tools, stakeholder engagement, project management, online collaboration, digital workplace