Project Man­age­ment is one of my favourite sub­jects. I love it! I love work­ing on projects, I love talk­ing about them, I love help­ing com­pa­nies with their projects - it is my pas­sion and one of the more inter­est­ing part of my job.

Projects are a cru­cial part of com­pa­nies lives. How­ever, if mis­led, projects can cause prob­lems and you may wish you never had one at all.

These are 4 most com­mon mis­takes organ­i­sa­tions and project man­agers make in man­ag­ing projects:

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1. A GOAL vs EXPECTATIONS

There is a world of a dif­fer­ence between a project goal and a project expec­ta­tion. If you want to run a project suc­cess­fully you need to know and under­stand not only the goal of the project, but the WHY. Why is the project needed and what do they expect from it. What is it that they want at the end of the project. You need to be absolutely sure you clar­ify the expec­ta­tions with the owner of the project. You may find that the orig­i­nal goal may not bring the expected outcome.

2. UNDERESTIMATING PLANNING AND PREPARATION

Plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion is the most under­val­ued project phase. Project man­agers and teams usu­ally jump into action and don’t think about plan­ning at all. Their usual rea­son­ing is that since are under time pres­sure, they have no time to think about plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion. Mur­phy loves this atti­tude. He spe­cialises on this kind of projects. Not only do things go wrong, even things you did not think could go wrong, do. That’s when the project man­ager and the team turn into fire­men and they just save what can be saved.

3. FORGETTING RISK MANAGEMENT

If I had to name the biggest project man­age­ment mis­take, with a 100% cer­tainty I would say is for­get­ting to out­line a risk man­age­ment strat­egy. Yes, it can be a part of point 2 above, but I want to men­tion it specif­i­cally. Project man­agers know there are risks within their projects, but most sim­ply hope they will not come up. And if they do, project man­agers have a ten­dency to deal with them reac­tively. Risks can kill projects if not out­lined from the prepa­ra­tion phase. Risk man­age­ment helps incor­po­rate activ­i­ties that you may for­get, if you do not plan risks. I am bor­row­ing Mark Cuban’s quote on this subject:

Because if you’re pre­pared and you know what it takes, it’s not a risk. You just have to fig­ure out how to get there. There is always a way to get there”.

4. WORKING IN A VACUUM

Some project man­agers work in a vac­uum; with­out com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the team or other par­ties who could bring great ideas. This sep­a­rates what the project man­ager knows and what knowl­edge his team mem­bers have and puts too much pres­sure and respon­si­bil­ity on the project leader. The whole project team should be involved in projects from the as early as pos­si­ble, they should be empow­ered and took account­able. At the end of the day, it is called a project team.

My con­clu­sion and advice would be: if you do plan on under­tak­ing projects but you don’t know how to run them, learn. Take a class or read about the processes. Do not just jump into projects with just your instincts and intu­ition. It is not good enough and mis­takes cost com­pa­nies too much money, it frus­trates and demo­ti­vates every­one involved.

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