08 May PM360 Consulting: 10 Project Management Challenges and Solutions
Efficient project management is essential for handling unexpected obstacles that almost all projects face. Below, you will learn how to tackle the most critical project challenges and solutions as the project unfolds.
1. Undefined Goals
One of the most common challenges in project management is identifying project goals. When goals are not clearly identified, the whole project and team can suffer. When upper management cannot agree to or support undefined goals, the project in question typically has little chance of succeeding. The project manager must ask the right questions to establish and communicate clear goals from the outset. How to manage unclear objectives and goals – Understand the difference between goals and objectives, ask the right questions (Why,What,How), develop a communication plan and establish clear deadlines and roles for project sponsors and team members.
2. Lack of Executive Sponsorship
The most common pitfalls related to executive sponsorship include change saturation, the disconnect in roles between the business leaders and their project teams, and a lack of knowledge or ability on the part of the executive or c-suite management team to carry out the sponsorship role. How to overcome lack of executive sponsorship is to engage the sponsor in project tasks, sponsor arc model and provide sponsor coaching
2. Scope Creep
Scope creep occurs when the deliverables or features on a project expand from what was originally agreed upon—but the project schedule or budget doesn’t adjust to accommodate the change. Common causes of scope creep are poorly defined project scope, over optimistic project estimates, lack of clarity around project deliverables, stakeholders who are disengaged or misunderstand levels of effort, gold platting and lack of project management practices. How to manage project scope creep is to apply re-baseline, set priorities, create a clear a project schedule, verify the project schedule with the stakeholders, change control processes and capacity planning of resources.
3. Poor Estimates
Inadequate estimates are the single largest cause of projects that don’t deliver on their promises and it is a worsening trend for the last thirty years. Some of the most common mistakes made when estimating are poor requirements is impossible to provide an accurate estimate if the requirements provided are not detailed enough, over-optimistic, padding, failure to assess risk and uncertainty and external factors. Ways to improve project estimates, define the project work, list all jobs, track effort and duration, state contingency reserves and describe and validate assumptions.
4. Unrealized Business Value
A project’s success is the desired business outcome. Increased profitability, reduced costs, process efficiency, are some of the desired business outcomes. The objective of every business is to realize set business value for its long-term survival and growth. Measure the opportunity and weigh in all possibilities. Implement a plan that leads to enduring business value. Establish a clear business objective aligned with the business goals. Perform a cost-benefit analysis and get the required stakeholder support. Develop each team member’s ability to enhance the possibility of a project’s success rate.
5. Lack of Accountability
A project manager’s leadership qualities can shine when each member of the team takes responsibility for his or her role in achieving project success. Conversely, a lack of accountability can bring a project to a complete halt. Finger-pointing and avoiding blame are unproductive, but all-too-common project management challenges. Learning to direct teams toward a common goal is an important aspect of project management training and coaching.
6. Insufficient Risk Management
In the worst case scenarios, poor risk management will cause your project to fail. In other words, the time, effort and cost invested in the project are wasted and project objectives have not been met. The benefit of proper risk management analysis implies control of possible future events and is proactive rather than reactive. Effective risk management strategies allow you to identify your project’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. By planning for unexpected events, you can be ready to respond if they arise.
7. Lack of Collaboration
A person in another department is saying they are too busy to carry out critical activities in your project. Often this happens when you haven’t sufficiently involved and agreed timescales with key project team members at the earliest stages of scoping and planning of projects. By involving people sooner, any potential clashes can be identified, and plans put in place before it becomes an issue. In busy organizations, it is highly like that priorities shift over time. Therefore, the sooner you build a good relationship with your project colleagues, the sooner you will find out about clashes. No matter how well prepared you are there will always be challenges that arise during a project. No project is perfectly planned or executed.
8. Unrealistic Deadlines
If new business conditions make your project more strategic, you might be asked to accelerate your delivery times. Before making promises, discuss and negotiate resource allocation (budget and people), so you can realistically make the shorter timeline. The opposite problem may arise too—an unforeseen situation downgrades your project and you get more time. Solutions to address unrealistic deadlines increase the resources or reduce the project scope, communicate expectations with client and team members, tracking duration and effort.
9. Skills Gap
A project sometimes requires skills that the project’s contributors do not possess. Project management training can help a project leader determine the needed competencies, assess the available workers and recommend training, outsourcing or hiring additional staff.
10. Poor Communication
Poor communication can lead to significant project management problems. Project managers must provide direction at every step of the project, so each team member knows what’s expected. Effective communication to everyone involved in the project is crucial to its successful completion. Through project management training, team members can improve their communication skills.
Project Management Training Benefits
Effective project management skills and techniques can be learned and developed with quality project management training and coaching. It’s important to honestly evaluate your skills and work to improve those lacking. Continuing training and coaching is typically the first step toward overcoming the project management challenges you’ll likely face. Project leaders, managers or team members can learn best practices through our training programs offered online or onsite at www.pm360 consulting.ie
Article written by Padraig Friel MBA MScPM IPMA C® CMC®