Whether you are a novice or a seasoned veteran of the project management space, it's always important to remind oneself of frequent pitfalls in the process that can derail even the strongest project management tools and techniques.
1. Not planning enough
Project planning tools are widespread, but their usefulness is limited without a solid plan in place. Good project scheduling is essential for avoiding bloat. Laying out a project's scope, schedule, and budget are the most basic requirements for project plans, but don't stop there.
Villanova University identified the major elements of a successful project plan: It recommended using the planning phase to identify the risk factors involved in the project, setting up contingencies for the long-term support for the project and establishing milestones where that plan can be reevaluated to prevent stagnation.
2. Poor delegation
The Pareto principle implies that 20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work. That might be true - and you might be part of that 20 percent right now. But you can't do all the work. Effective delegation is key to making sure that every part of a project gets the attention it's due.
Of course, managers need to be mindful of when, what and how they're delegating. Build a safety net in case delegated tasks go poorly, ProKarma client engagement director Sridhar Peddisetty recommended to PM Network Magazine. Though delegation might feel like a loss of control, it actually affords a manager more control over the entire project, as freeing himself from the grunt work gives him more time to manage the overhead view of a project.
3. Isolate teams
The best team with the least resources will trump the worst team with the most resources. Managers have to choose their staff carefully, and be sure to tailor a project to that team's strengths and weaknesses. Designing a team with project collaboration in mind will make it more efficient and poised for success.
In order to emphasize teamwork, use online project collaboration tools that offer features like wikis and blogging tools to help team members quickly and efficiently keep each other up to date on a project. And since they're Web-based, team members can check in on progress from anywhere.
4. Resistance to change
As the fable goes, in a storm, the reed bends to the winds while the oak snaps. Good project managers know that no plan is perfect at the outset, and that every project must, from time to time, evolve to stay viable. Staffing changes, sudden revisions to scope and a shifting project ecosystem are all valid reasons to deviate a plan from its initial state.
Consider evaluating the efficacy of a plan at preplanned milestones (see first entry) in order to make sure it's still working. Talk to the team, see how they feel. If there's something wrong, they'll say it. Check in with stakeholders - especially clients, if that's applicable. Their needs may have changed, and it's going to feel bad if suddenly the last three months of work on the project are invalidated because the client wants to go in a different direction.