After being assigned as a project manager, everyone is eager to get started and complete the project with enthusiasm. Unfortunately a substantial number of projects end in frustration, over budget, and beyond the deadline for completion.
Project managers are the first to receive the blame when projects go awry. Before you fall victim to project management mistakes, review the following to make sure you have a plan to mitigate or altogether avoid these issues:
Shortcuts – taking shortcuts at the beginning of any project is the first red flag that your project will probably fail. Make sure all of the initial steps are taken and followed according to your project plan. This includes constructing the project plan itself.
Unclear goals – A project charter will help you to make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the project’s goals. The charter includes a complete problem statement on the issue and how the project will go about solving that problem. The charter will also clearly communicate the timeline and overall budget for the project as well as the key executive sponsor.
Lack of sponsor support – signing off on a project charter is not the only responsibility for the executive sponsor. The executive must clearly understand that he or she must attend the initial project kick-off meeting and “set the tone” for the project along with performance expectations. Then the executive sponsor must stay in the communications loop and be quick to intervene if objections or issues are raised that could derail the project. The project manager must have close communication with the executive sponsor and feel comfortable in providing honest and direct insight on the project.
Resource planning – a quick estimation of resources for a project can spell trouble. Instead, carefully look at the project without necessarily assigning names. Do you need a quality control expert? Will you need hardware and network personnel? When should you have documentation and training resources? The project manager should first look at the types of resources needed, and then evaluate the personnel available to see if all the needs are met. If additional resources or expertise is required, raise the issue sooner rather than later.
Time estimations – a general rule for almost any project is to at least double the time after you have received your initial estimations. The reason for this is not only to cover for unexpected issues but to also account for activities that the project team may have overlooked or were assumed to be added elsewhere. These activities can include research, data loading, documentation efforts, team meetings, troubleshooting and other activities. As a general rule, doubling the time is wise even when the estimates appear realistic.
Project management software – choosing the right project management software can make a huge difference in your project. Some software products can help with assigning resources as well as time and cost estimation activities. Research the products that are available on the market today and choose the one that would work best for your business and your projects.