Only 2.5% percent of companies successfully complete their projects. Aren’t the numbers staggeringly disappointing? They are, for sure. Managing projects is no less than running a small city. You have to take care of the projects, resources, deadlines, manage the budget, ensure proper communication, foresee potential risks and what not.
Taking care of so many things can be nerve-wracking and it’s not surprising if something or the other slips out of your mind.
Every day we hear same stories, common challenges and issues in project management. Yet we fail to learn our lesson out of these stories. Being a project manager, have you ever wondered why only a handful of companies manage to deliver projects successfully whereas you struggle to even meet the deadlines?
It’s because besides having the ability to plan, manage resources, and meet deadlines, one must possess the ability to foresee the challenges that may hamper the progress of the overall project.
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As a part of today’s article, we have researched the typical challenges a project manager can expect to meet while a project is in motion. Let’s see what these challenges are:
1. Poorly defined goals
The first major challenge that project managers and team members might face is not knowing what exactly to expect from the project. If the goals and objectives are not clearly defined, the project is doomed to fail. When no one is aware of the whats, whys and whens of the project, what will follow is a lot of confusion and chaos.
Starting a project without clear objectives, a specific direction and a prepared plan; it’s like going on a road trip with no idea where you’re going and how to get there. You will waste gas, time and effort. Likewise, your business suffers when there is no clarity and forethought before starting a project.
2. Unrealistic Deadlines
The second reason why most projects fail or what most project managers and project members struggle is with the unrealistic expectations clients and stakeholders have from them. Most project timelines do eventually slip due to the unrealistic ‘initial deadlines’.
As we live in a world, where competition is getting aggressive and targets are set either unrealistic or unachievable rather than driven by calculated business requirements. From then, what begins is a desperate attempt where the team tries to fit the requirements in the already drawn boundaries.
Solution: Project managers can take care of the project deadlines and other related issues with impeccable planning, alternative analysis and proper communication of the real-time progress to project participants and other key decision makers.
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3. Scope creep
Every project manager fear one thing the most – scope creep. Most of the times, a project starts a certain way but as it progresses, it takes a different shape and doesn’t even look the same project you started. This often is a result of the expansion of a project outside of the planned objectives – aka scope creep.
This can put project managers and team members in a difficult spot as unpredictable or new changes can often lead to the project failure. Remember, a lot of little changes are as bad as one big change.
Solution: To avoid scope-creep, it’s better to determine project goals (cost, schedule, quality) through a systematic process with proper planning and understanding of the customer needs. Make realistic assumptions about resource availability and deadlines to achieve quality results. As, there is no 100% anti-scope-creep solution but documenting what is happening and communicating challenges to stakeholders, team, and management in advance might help.
Use Gantt charts for better project planning and tracking and stay on top of project plans. Click here to know more about Gantt charts.
4. Insufficient team skills
A team is as good as its team members. But most of the times, the team members are assigned on their availability, not for their expertise for many projects. If team members are not skilled or trained enough to meet the challenges and perform assigned tasks, it can put the development of the project in a risky spot.
Some projects are challenging or demands a certain level of knowledge and expertise, so it is up to project managers to decide whether team members need to be trained or to add someone with the required skills. Besides this, qualities like the lack of accountability, blaming each other, and finger-pointing can also halt a project.
Solution: Document the core set of skills needed to accomplish the workload and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the team members. If required, train them to enhance their knowledge and end the skill gaps.
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5. Improper communication
Poor communication is one the biggest project management challenges that get in the way to deliver projects successfully. Communication skills are the project manager’s greatest asset. No matter if you are giving instructions, asking questions or seeking information, there’s always a challenge to provide clear and open communication.
There’s a reason why project managers emphasize a lot on effective communication. Because, most often, successful communication translates into successful projects as 57 percent of projects fail due to breakdown in communications
Solution: Determine proper communication flows for project members and develop a way to inform what information needs to be informed to project members. You can also use a collaboration software such as ProofHub to ensure that project members are in the loop of the recent developments in the project.
6. Geographically dispersed teams
Projects are inherently collaborative in nature. But with the changing times and companies evolving every year, you may have a team that is spread across the different parts of the globe. Oftentimes, project teams incorporate multiple organizations. Team members aren’t just company employees but also extends to clients, vendors, and stakeholders. These virtual teams come along with their own set of challenges – different time zones, complex language barriers and much more.
Solution: At times, the whole project team is working for one organization but people are working from different areas globally. In an economy where everything is fast-paced, information must travel as quickly as possible, employing a centralized project management software solution is the need of the hour.
Remote team members can stay updated with latest project developments with a collaboration software like ProofHub.
7. Risk management
According to Wikipedia, “Risk management is the identification, assessment, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated application of resources to minimize, monitor and control the events.”
Oftentimes, projects don’t go as planned so risk management is one of the major project management issues that project managers have to deal with. Management experts can tell how seasoned a project manager is with his ability to oversee risks that might creep up in a project anytime. These risks can be an uncertainty in financial market, hidden flaws in the project plan or unknown factors that can impact the success of a project
Solution: Although it’s impossible to predict every potential risk but with strategic planning and collecting information beforehand, project managers can anticipate which part of the project is likely to fail. With that information, he can develop control measures that can help them to deal with the risks accordingly.
8. Not using project management software
Businesses – large or small – juggle numerous projects, plans, tasks, and people. And, if you are not using a project management software, chances are that you might end up doing a lot more than necessary. This may result in a lot of time and effort being wasted on things that can easily be automated or dealt in a better way.
According to a study, two-third of successful companies are using project management software for managing their projects and communication purposes. Thus, having a project management software can help you plan better and keep the project information and resources under one roof.
Solution: Today, you ask any project management expert, they’ll start singing praises for project management software and their benefits.
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9. Issues within a team
A team consists of multiple members, each having a different personality, managing and catering to their needs can be a daunting task at times. With so many people working on a project together, there can be disagreements and differences in a team that can have a negative impact on the project and work environment.
Issues and incongruities amongst team members is often a challenge for project managers to deal with. They have to constantly look for ways to take everyone in a team together for the betterment of the project.
Solution: The best way to eliminate any issues or negativity in a team is to create a positive work environment. Being a project manager, you can also incorporate some team building activities to foster a feeling of unison and teamwork among them.
Project management isn’t what it seems to be – it’s much more than that. It’s a skill that takes time, patience and perseverance. It requires you to constantly analyze setbacks and failures and implement the lessons learned from them. When you focus on each challenge and find ways to deal with them before even starting the project, that’s when you’d be able to helm project management successfully.
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