5 Ways Project Managers Fail (And How To Avoid Them)

January 27, 2016

brookeNote from Cesar: This is a guest post by Brooke Cade. Brooke is a freelance writer with Workfront. When she is not writing, Brooke is committed to learning more about helping businesses and marketing professionals succeed with their project management goals.

Thanks to technological advancements and the internet age we live in, being a project manager is no longer a role filled by a select few specialized managers. With the ever-increasing amount of programs and project management tools, it’s quite easy for almost anyone to find themselves managing their own work, along with the work of others, creating schedules and budgets, and reporting to stakeholders.

You may find yourself thrust into the “accidental project manager” role, or you may be a long-time pro in the field. Whatever your circumstance, you need to be aware of these common pitfalls and how to avoid them if you want to achieve project management success.

1. Failing to Plan

Don’t become victim to this easily-avoided pitfall to project success. If you fail to map out your project thoroughly, you may be doomed from the start. To know your on a doomed path, here are some warning signs to watch out for:

  • Missed milestones

  • Insufficient resources to complete the project

  • Difficulty getting stakeholder approval or aligning with their views

  • An excessive amount of change requests throughout the project

Plan out the scope of the project in its entirely before you start, or as soon as the project shows signs of suffering. Make sure stakeholders are in agreement with your set milestones, deliverable dates, and budget worksheets. Plan out status reports, updates and all communications from the get go. Allow yourself some cushion for the the approval process as well as inevitable delays and interruptions to project flow.

In the end, planning ahead will save you a significant headache when things don’t go according to plan, or when unanticipated issues come up and threaten your timeline.

2. Insisting on Doing Everything Manually

If you’re spending most of your time in spreadsheets and sending follow up emails, you’re spending valuable time doing more work than necessary. Save yourself and your team from this pitfall by investing in a software solution that allows you to prioritize through collaborative communication.

Choose a solution that allows access to all contributors and stakeholders, where you can view who is assigned to which task, their deadlines, who approves them, and the next plan of action upon a task’s completion. The software should allow all contributors, from top to bottom, to login at any time and view the status of all assigned tasks in which they are involved.

3. Using Multiple Disconnected Tools

With so many communication resources and tools out there, it’s easy for things to get lost in the fray. From spreadsheets to email to intranet to a number of cloud-based software programs with their own niche, you could spend more time managing your time than you are spending on your project.

Consolidate or replace your disconnected tools altogether by choosing a work management system that is comprehensive and cloud-based. Be sure to choose one that allows for:

  • Scheduling and reminders

  • Project collaboration and communication

  • Historical project data

  • Data storage and reports

  • Visibility to all contributors

4. Not Allowing for Project Review and Correction

Don’t wait until a project is completed to debrief. This can lead individuals to disengage or become unable to objectively figure out what went wrong or right during the project and what they could have done differently.

At the beginning and throughout the project, set specific goals to track progress incrementally (not manually) and allow for measurement and correction, should you need to get back on track. By analyzing project progress throughout, and when specific goals are met, you can better anticipate issues and make adjustments to your goals and objectives as needed.

5. Using Outdated Processes

If you find you’re completing the bulk of your work manually, sending items through email, shooting follow up emails to your emails, and running into project contributors for status updates, then you’re missing out on efficient and collaborative progress. By avoiding the integration of new management systems, you’re putting your project at risk.

All members of the team should be encouraged to adopt the new solution and strive for unification. Your chosen project management software will not reach its full potential if half of the team adopts it and half does not. Hold company-wide trainings to allow all employees to become comfortable and fully integrated in the new system and then require it to be the only method used.

When it comes to project success, it is vital to have the right tools available to your team. Through acknowledging these pitfalls and taking appropriate steps to avoid them, by way of detailed planning and practices, you are bound to see success in all your future projects.