How many times have you worked on an important group project for work and found it difficult to complete due to poor communication, tasks that fell through the cracks, or inexperienced personnel? Or maybe things weren’t that bad but you know your time could have been used more effectively in getting the project to completion?
Strong project management skills are essential to get projects (big and small) completed not only on time, but at the highest level of quality. Having the right skills, systems, and processes in place can help you effectively and efficiently manage a project
Save yourself time, money, and headaches by investing in yourself and gaining the strong project management skills you need to get the job done right. Having the right skills can help prevent these top five project management mistakes.
1. Unclear Expectations
Unclear expectations lead to frustration — employees are unclear what they’re being asked to produce and managers are expecting a complete final product. A lot of frustration can occur here because this lack of clarity can lead to projects not being done at all, or correctly, and employees are left feeling like they never really understood expectations in the first place.
An effective project manager will have a plan in place with specific roles and action items outlined for all participants before presenting the project to the team. This erodes any confusion and clearly defines project expectations including team member roles, deadlines, action items, communication preferences, budgets, and project needs.
2. Missing Due Dates
Due dates should be assigned by the project manager before the project’s launch, as part of the project plan,. The due dates should be achievable but allow for wiggle room. Due dates should be outlined for tasks big and small that help you get to your final goal.
Ashley Schwartau of The Security Awareness Company recommends building in flexibility to avoid missing deadlines: “I assign my team members specific deadlines for their parts of the project—and the dates I give are always much earlier than I actually need.”
3. Going Over Budget
Less than a third of all projects were successfully completed on time and on budget in 2013, according to the Standish Group.
Going over budget can be caused by several factors, such as failing to have a clear scope of the project, adding new requirements to the project, and failing to have the resources needed to complete the project scope. These can all be handled before beginning by clearly defining the project scope and making sure you are adequately prepared.
Involve all team members, including finance and project management employees, in the budget process. If the numbers people and the project people aren’t on the same page, chances are your project is not being properly budgeted. Also, don’t be afraid to deal with issues as they arise. Putting them off will only make it worse.
Budgets can make or break a project so it’s important to play it safe with your numbers. There’s a reason “under-promise and over-deliver” has become a hallmark of successful businesses.
4. Unnecessary Meetings
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics once estimated that unnecessary meetings cost the U.S. economy $27 billion a year.
At the project kick-off meeting, define what constitutes a necessary meeting — then follow this rule throughout the entire project. Meetings, which use up valuable work time, should always have a purpose, an agenda, and end with next steps. Decide who really needs to be there and share notes with the rest of the team afterwards.
5. Misuse of Project Management Tools
Is there a clear system in place for your team members to share their work? Do your team members know where to keep track of their project roles and documents? Are there too many documents that require frequent project updates? How will they be updated, formatted, and shared?
These questions, and many more, can help shape what tools are right for your company and project. Decide early on what tools are the right fit and limit the number of project management tools needed to complete the task. The simpler, the better.
Every work project can benefit from having the right project management skills. Projects run smoother and teams work more efficiently when a project manager knows what they’re doing. By being the manager or team member who can skillfully manage a team project to effective completion, you’ll not only help your company’s bottom line but you’ll showcase your leadership capabilities and save everyone involved time and stress.