IT executives and certified project management professionals reveal the most common reasons projects get derailed and what project managers can do to keep them on track.Every project manager potentially faces countless mistakes that affect projects, cause delays and, in some cases, contribute to complete project failure.
1. Expectation Mismanagement
It’s really easy for a project manager to think their team or their clients know exactly what’s in scope, when what will be delivered when. After all, we have scope documents and project plans to communicate those things. Alas, many project managers find that those documents don’t always do the job for you. If you want to make sure everyone expects the same things, talk about them.
2. Not breaking down big projects into smaller pieces
“Breaking a large project into small, manageable pieces will make the team feel more comfortable and confident that they can successfully tackle what may seem like an impossible project and [accomplish] each task
To avoid leaving your team feeling overwhelmed, “take the time to understand each facet of the project.” Then “break the project into small pieces, and break those small pieces into smaller pieces if you can.” And assign each task to the team members who are best suited to accomplish them.
3. Poor Resource Matching
Are you selecting people for your project based on availability or skill set? All too often, people are selected simply because they are available. This could put the project at risk if the skills and experience needed are not present in the team.
It’s important to employ the right project manager and team members to deliver on the customer’s requirements and expectations.
Build a team based on skill set and experience, not on availability. Consider whether it’s worth paying a premium for a small team of highly proficient and experienced people.
4. Poor Requirements Gathering
Many projects start with the barest headline list of requirements, only to find later the customers’ needs have not been clearly understood. Often, there are gaps in the requirements, dead-ends or requests that simply don’t make sense without additional clarification.
One way to avoid this problem is by writing a statement of requirements.This document is a guide to the requirements of the project. Once you create your statement of requirements, ensure the customer and other stakeholders sign-up to it and understand that this is what you have agreed to deliver.
5. Not regularly communicating with team members
“Establishing the right foundation for regular meetings, who will attend these meetings and who else needs to be involved will help keep things on track.” The importance of having the right number of people involved because “too many people can bog things down, as people may feel they need to comment at every turn.”
6. Underestimating Time and Budget Needed
How much time and budget do I need for my project? The answer isn’t a matter of simple allocation based on assumptions or guesswork. Start a project on the right foot by having enough resources right from the get go. Get expert advice from people who have worked on similar projects. Take a bottom-up budgeting approach to arrive at reasonable estimates for the project.