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8 Project Management Mistakes You Should Avoid at All Costs

6th June 2018 Print

Managing complete projects and tasks is never easy. In order to succeed, project managers have to be able to understand team engagement, project challenges and goals, communication, and the common issues that might test your ability to be flexible and roll with the punches. And even if you aren’t a project manager, you’ll most likely have to act as one at one point or another.

Unfortunately, not all project managers are equally efficient and some repeatedly commit mistakes that could be easily avoided. Here are some of the most crucial project management mistakes you should keep an eye on.

Not Clearly Defining the Project

The first thing a project manager should do is clearly define the project. Without planning its core elements (metrics for success, goal, outcomes, challenge), then you’re set to fail and lose track of objectives. 

You have to lay out what your desired outcome for the project will be. You should lay out the team’s set goal and make sure that they are alignment with the organization. Now that you’ve set the bigger goal, you can divide it into smaller components and start setting benchmarks for completion.

Hiring the Wrong Project Manager

Managing projects is complicated and matters are only made worse when the project manager lacks experience. A good project manager should have knowledge on how to develop a project plan, running status meetings, dealing with stakeholders and managing risks and issues that may arise. Just having been at the helm of a handful of projects should help new project managers become more effective and enable them to tweak their approach.

If you’re dealing with a junior manager, then you could have a senior manager shadowing them and showing them the ropes on a few projects. While you want your junior PMs to grow, guidance in the earliest stages is important. You should also consider enrolling them in a few continuing education classes so that they can hone their skills. There are plenty of PMP certification training options available and you could choose to focus on points that the PM is particularly struggling with. If you’re unfamiliar with PMP certification courses, you can discover options on

Resources Are Matched Poorly

Proper resource pairing is essential for any project. In some cases, people will pair teams together based on availability alone without thinking about individual skills. This could put your project into jeopardy if the particular set of skills needed can’t be found in the team.

That’s why it’s not only essential to pick the right project manager, but the right employees as well if you want your project to come to fruition and not waste valuable employee time. And it’s always better to form a smaller team of highly competent individuals than try to compensate with numbers.

Poor Gathering of Requirements

A lot of projects start with a sparse list of requirements. This often leads to the customer’s needs not being understood and met. This can lead to gaps and misunderstandings about deadlines, requirements or requests that simply don’t add up without additional clarification.

This can be easily remedied if you have a clear statement of requirements on paper. You can then give it to the stakeholders and customers and make sure that they fully understand it and add anything that might be missing. Have them commit to it in writing so they can’t say that a requirement that was agreed upon hasn’t been met.

Underestimating Budget and Time Needed

How much budget and time should be awarded to this project? The answer to this question shouldn’t rely on guesswork or assumptions. Some PMs just throw a ballpark number out there of what they think would be reasonable for a project and try to glue pieces together as the project goes along if they suspect they’ll be going overboard.

You should also seek expert advice before you even think of undertaking a project as to how long it will take and how much it will cost. Ask for a second opinion from people who’ve been through this type of project so that they can give you an estimate. Take a bottom-up approach to get a realistic estimate for your project.

Miscommunication Between the Project Team and Stakeholders

Miscommunication is also one of the biggest reasons why so many projects fail. And sometimes, just one small error or misunderstanding can either extend the project completion time or blow its budget. 

Nothing can be more frustrating than a team blaming you for their own lack of communication. That’s why you need to keep everyone on your team aware of exceptions, decisions, any changes to the team structure, and other pertinent changes at all times so they don’t make mistakes that could’ve been avoided.

As an owner, you have absolutely no excuse not to communicate with your project team and stakeholders. Communication is a project’s lifeblood, so information has to flow freely between different parts. 

Not Managing a Project’s Scope Properly

Another reason why many projects fail is because people simply lose sight of the project’s scope. Commonly referred to as scope creep, this usually occurs when certain elements are added to the project after it was started, or some stages simply take longer to be completed thus expanding the total duration of the project.

Losing scope of a project can be easy, especially when you brush aside these small delays thinking they won’t have that much of an effect on the project’s completion time.

This is a problem that is recurring on many projects. A set time frame is devised for a project or stages, only for other components to be added during progression. On top of that, the team may be expected to finish the project within the same time frame.

However, by monitoring the progress on any given project correctly, you can greatly reduce the chances of being caught up by scope creep. It’s the PM’s job to clearly lay out the full scope of a project before it even begins. But while changes in direction are impossible to predict, the PM still has to be able to adapt, monitor and make amendments to the scope of the project. Project managers need to be able to keep information organized, revisit goals and track budget changes.

Doing Everything on Your Own

Some PMs will have a bad tendency of wanting to take full control over projects and discouraging or simply ignoring opinions from team members. The problem is that team members are usually much more in touch with the risks, issues and challenges of a project.

Not listening to their advice and suggestions could make the project more complicated than it already is or lead to failure. Project managers should organize team planning sessions regularly to keep members engaged and make them feel like they’re truly contributing to the project.

Too many project managers completely shoot down any attempt at any suggestion or idea because they feel that their superior experience gives them the edge. As a result, team members just become cogs in the machine and have no stake in a project’s success. Not keeping your members engaged leads to poor morale, and poor morale leads to poor performance, so make sure you keep an eye on that.

If you follow these few simple tips, then project management should go much more smoothly. However, make sure that you always leave clear channels of communication between you, the team, and the stakeholders, and make sure that you build competent teams headed by the right leaders.