AUTHOR: Daisy Wallace

The Learning People have put together a list of the top ten project management mistakes.

1. Failing to achieve support from higher up

If there is nobody from the higher levels of management personally invested in a project then there is no clear hierarchy of support.


2. Failing to capture every member of a team’s attention/interest

Although participating in projects is an employee’s job, if their imagination isn’t captured by a project, then their attention to their work within it will never be 100%.

As a manager, if you don’t make it clear from the very beginning what each individual’s role is, and don’t describe the reasoning, evaluation, purpose and incentives involved in the project, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.

Usually a presentation to everyone involved at the beginning of a project will instil this sense of urgency.


3. Failure to assign and delegate properly

When working on resource allocation, one of the priority tasks is assigning the correct management team. 

Don’t let yourself be lured into a false sense of security by a team with availability over skills. Their skillset must match the project specifications.


4. Failure to communicate

The simple fact is that without regular communication, a project is more likely to fail. 

Regular meetings with every team member will keep this line of communication open, and will enable people to have a refresh point to aim for each week.


5. Failure to specify the scope of a project

A project without a goal is a project without success.

Allowing the scope of a project to repeatedly change will always be detrimental, and often leads to costly mistakes and awkward shifts to your schedule. 

Agree and define the scope from the beginning of a project, and monitor this regularly to ensure everyone involved is adhering to the specifications. 

If a change has to happen or is requested, have full reports created that provide estimates on how this alteration will affect cost and schedule.


6. Failure to provide realistic timescales

Always keep to an achievable timetable, because if you continually miss deadlines your clients will be understandably aggrieved, meaning they may not use your services again in the future or recommend them to others. 

Always add contingency time to act as a buffer.


7. Failure to be flexible

Some project managers set a plan and stick to it religiously. 

This is not always advisable. New information can sometimes mean changes should be made to a project to help the end result be top quality. 

Take time to step back and look at the bigger picture of a project. 

If from this review you realise that there are some things that haven’t worked well, then make changes when looking ahead that will make your team’s life easier, and illustrate to your client that you’ve learnt from experience and won’t make the same mistakes again.


8. Failure to define success

One of the first things any project manager should do is to define a successful definition to the project with the client. 

This means that when a project is completed, everyone involved is satisfied by the results and know where they stand.


9. Failure to allow team members a sense of freedom

Unless you’re faced with a particularly unruly team, micromanagement of projects is not a good tactic to take.

Policing a project will launch you into a hierarchical role that many of your team may come to resent. 

This in turn means that they’re less likely to come to you with a problem, and therefore this issue can fester and affect an employee’s performance, and ultimately the project outcome. 

Relaxed and regular team meetings allow the team an opportunity to check in with you, and to raise any issues that they may have in a welcoming and collaborative environment.


10. Failure to approve and track progress

It is essential that changes are logged throughout a project process

There is an alarming amount of companies that fail to track or monitor changes to a project, which can often result in a project veering off course. 

Ensure there is a clear process that is adhered to by all team members. 

If a change is necessary, it must be justified, cost evaluated, and logged in order to prevent it affecting the workflow of a project and causing confusion further along the line.

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