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:
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.