Project Management Mastery: Evade These Common Pitfalls

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As kids, my brother and I used to love going to the roof of our house to drop anything we could find off the roof and watch them break into a million pieces. I admit, it wasn’t the most responsible game, but hey we were kids.

Anyway, the point is, you have likely felt that your project is flying through the air, destined to have the same eventual fate as those poor objects my brother and I condemned. However, you shouldn’t feel that way. I’d like to provide some unsolicited advice on maintaining control over your precious projects.

Here are six project blunders to avoid like the plague that will ultimately set you on the path to smoother project management. Let’s dive in!

  1. Lack of clear objectives: Setting vague or ambiguous goals will only lead to confusion and wasted effort. Define SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) objectives for your projects to keep everyone on the same page. If you feel like you don’t have time to set SMART goals, this is one of those moments when you need to slow down to speed up. So get to it.
  2. Ineffective communication: No one has a monopoly on the “best” communication style. Be upfront and tell your client and team what to expect. Tell them the how, the who, and the when. Pro tip: put this in a communication plan when you onboard a client.
  3. Not taking risks seriously: Everything in life has risks associated with it. Our projects are no different. Is the expected deadline cutting it close? Is a key member taking leave? Will the ramp-up time for a replacement be longer than expected? Identify the risks and call them out early.
  4. Underestimating stakeholder inclusion: Similar to point #2 but not the same. Keeping stakeholders engaged and informed is crucial for project success. If we neglect this, stakeholders may become disinterested in the project. Their disinterest can even turn into hostility, leading to resistance to change. Regularly update them on progress and address their concerns promptly.
  5. Excluding the production team from planning: It’s essential to ensure appropriate team involvement before finalizing a project’s scope, capabilities, and schedule. This shift in planning prevents your team from being caught off guard by unattainable limitations and deadlines that necessitate overtime.
  6. Not learning from previous projects: Running effective retrospectives or post-mortems helps maintain constant awareness of project blind spots. Recognizing weaknesses and strengths enables tweaking your project strategy for better outcomes.

With these strategies, you’ll elevate your project management skills and stop hindering progress. Remember, clear objectives, effective communication, risk management, stakeholder inclusion, team involvement in planning, and learning from past experiences are essential for smoother project management. Embrace these key aspects to gain control of your projects and steer them towards success, leaving behind the days of feeling like your efforts are plummeting to the ground.