3 Key Project Management Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them!

As a senior project specialist with over 20 years experience in professional services, business and technology-focused roles, I’ve learnt some tricks of the trade in order to avoid classic pitfalls. Below are some of the difficulties that can arise during a project and the solutions you can employ to safely avoid them in future!

1) Lack of effective communication with your team

I come back to this time and time again but if effective communication is missing from the process it becomes next to impossible to have a smooth running project.

Sometimes it can be as basic as a miscommunication of the benefits and value of a project manager, misunderstanding of an individual’s role or even failure to communicate the urgency of a project.

One way to counteract this problem is to ensure backing from the project sponsor during project kick off, in person, explaining the importance of the project, the motives behind it and offer of clarification on what each individual’s role may be.

Inclusion of the big picture and context can be everything, alongside regular meetings with the whole team, this will lead to support and commitment in implementing the end goal and you should be well on your way to success!

2) Misinterpretation of the desired end result

In a similar vein, it’s critical to spend time with the project sponsor and understand where they are coming from. You can work for months to deliver a project but if the end result isn’t quite what the sponsor was expecting then this affects your ability to champion the sponsor’s vision, which can lead to stakeholder dissatisfaction, cost and time overrun.

Ensure that you have a clear brief from the start of the project and have regular contact in order to monitor any deviation from the original directives.

You cannot effectively lead and manage if you cannot accurately convey the project problem statement, objectives and high-level requirements. If this isn’t fully understood from the outset, it could lead to lack of stakeholder buy-in, project resources misunderstanding their roles thus leading to cost, time impacts and rework.

Crucially, build a relationship with the project sponsor they champion the project outcomes and hold the purse strings!

3) Failure to complete due-diligence during the early stages of a project

When you introduce a change, you need to consider the full impacts to your organisation from commercials to legal to IT security.

Are you reliant on new third party vendors or external business partners to deliver a critical component of the product or service? Have you agreed to the commercial terms and scope with them to ensure quality of service to your customers?

Have you engaged the legal team to understand their timeline and costs to complete the commercial agreement prior to commencing work with the third party vendor or external business partner?

Are you introducing new IT security risks associated with implementing a new technology solution? Have you involved your IT team to understand that if by implementing this technology solution, does this add any additional IT security risks to your organisation? Would your third party vendor or external business partner need to complete additional work to meet any IT security policy requirements?

These need to be taken into account from early on in the process to ensure all project costs, resources and critical path dependencies are ratified.

Develop your own project kick off checklist to understand the due-diligence activities that have been completed. Identify any gaps and ensure they are included as part of your project scope and plan to avoid unnecessary surprises during project delivery.

Where necessary negotiate with your sponsor to include any gaps as part of your scope, timeline and costs so they can be managed to mitigate any future project risks or issues.


About Shan Leng

Shan Leng
Shan is a seasoned Project specialist adept in building relationships and unifying teams to work towards a common goal. She has an ability to think strategically, develop and implement initiatives in alignment to business plans. Shan is experienced in establishing Steering Committees to effectively negotiate, manage expectations and influence decisions. Shan is skilled at adding structure to complex and ambiguous environments. Shan has a proven capability to deliver initiatives against business strategies through efficient and effective governance frameworks.

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