Project managers are forever under pressure to make their projects succeed in the face of unwarranted adversities. But then, their plans, risk management modules, and issue tracking systems may all go for a big toss if they are not able to avoid certain key project issues that keep coming their way. So, whether things are going on smoothly or you’ve been hitting turbulences consistently, you cannot move ahead with blinders. Here’s our list of top 10 key project issues that need to be managed and anticipated in time.
1. Lack in Cohesiveness
Are you still struggling to create a high-performance team. Take a pause and assess your management style. Are you prone to discouraging team members from offering ideas, speaking their minds, or suggesting changes? Do you give them adequate opportunity to participate? The problems facing effective team management may also be courtesy the excessive diversity prevailing in your team. So, strive to limit the involvement of members from other departments, or those whom you’re not supervising directly. Concentrate on the participation rendered by the resources you actually need; this will keep your team lean, and the overall budget under control.
2. Missed Deadlines and Late Finishes
You have the best schedule control processes in place and your team’s performing well as a unit; but still, you have to skip phase deadlines and deal with projects not finishing in time. To avoid frustration and flare-ups, you may want to increase your team size or allow more time to different tasks on hand. Also, check for realism in your schedules and know why tasks and phases are not being completed in the time frames allotted for the same. Think of defining your schedules in line with the overall job scope. In case you find your project deadlines reeling under unreasonable top management pressure, then it becomes critical for you to push back a little and ask for better timeframes or resources.
3. Improper Communication Channels
One of the key project issues deals with handling problems of ineffective communication with clients, board members and others in the senior management. Although you may be trying your level best to keep all communication channels open, your management may be updating you about project priorities with serious delays. What do you do? While it’s not easy to improve upon their communication skills, things may start working your way if you seek clear definitions, present timely status reports, and convey information to all those who matter. If they still fail to respond to your suggestions or requests; delay in confirming project goals; or extend little support in time; then you need to take up things more seriously for gaining easy resolutions.
4. Real PM Oversights are making the Project Suffer
In most cases, your supervisory duties, ongoing departmental responsibilities and tasks take such a heavy toll on your project phases that you have little time for monitoring schedules and budgets. However busy you may be, refrain from overlooking the significance of overseeing your team. Like you, most project managers are expected to play the roles of a supervisor, leader, trainer, and communicator. Here, the most important jobs are those related to managing, organizing and driving the right resources into the project network for ensuring its success. Regardless of all other pressures, you cannot afford to overlook this essential fact—so act likewise.
5. Project Goals are Poorly Defined
One of your topmost responsibilities should be with respect to defining the goals of your project and spelling out its scope specifically. Even if you need to push a tad harder for gaining complete awareness about the objectives and expected results of the project, do so. In, the initial phases, those sharing the assignment do not have prior and thorough knowledge about all requirements. You must not proceed with any development task until all goals are properly defined. Else, the successful completion of your project will merely be a matter of luck, not a window to your team’s skills or experiences.
6. Project Scope Changes after Initiation of Phases
Whether you like it or not, priorities keep changing because of competition, dynamic markets, and profitability requirements. Any assumption with regards to the project scope remaining as it was when assigned, till the time of delivery, has a high probability of backfiring. If there are major changes in the project assigned to you, then they serve as signals for inadequate leadership at the top. Such project issues need to be addressed with a flexible approach and help you achieve the project’s ever-changing goals. The best way of going forward in such scenarios is by communicating with higher-ups at all stages, and restating all objectives to know whether they are still valid, or not.
7. Pushback from other Managers
This key project issue makes you deal with the formidable task of deriving co-operation from managers from other departments. In spite of your best efforts of approaching them diplomatically, or defining the project, you’ll find them holding on tightly to their resources. These are the times when your desires of achieving overall organizational goals fail, and you are left struggling with limited manpower and other resources in hand. In order to resolve this problem, you need to provide adequate assurance to project managers that you are aware of their priorities and plans, and are prepared to adhere to them--under all circumstances.
8. Problems of Proper Schedule Management
If you are juggling with too many different project phases at the same time, or striving to co-ordinate the ongoing efforts of all team members to perfection, then you would know how difficult it is to manage your schedules. Assess the methods that you are using currently for developing and controlling all schedules, and offer support via detailed network diagrams and other effective control documents. Any lack in preparation while formatting schedules are bound to create scheduling control problems—so keep revisiting and revising them, as and when required.
9. Project Demands more than Department Management Skills
The levels of leadership and supervision required by your projects may be quite different from what you showcase as a department manager. Well, a completely different approach may have to be taken up for supervising your project team. Unlike department resources reports, the ones pertaining to your projects have to be shared with other project managers and those engaged elsewhere. Your project resources do not belong to your department only and can be pulled back in times of emergency or other more important project needs/assignments.
10. Overruns due to Unrealistic Project Budgets
However preoccupied you may be in meeting project schedules, you cannot overlook the significance of the budget allotted to you. This is because your company's risks are linked with the financial investments in all projects, versus the rewards that may be derived later on via increased profits or reduced costs. Therefore, it is important that the overall budget is controlled conscientiously. In most cases, budget overruns may happen due to unrealistic allocations or the need for exercising more direct control. You may avoid this key project issue by reviewing expense levels regularly, comparing budgets/ actual expenses, and looking around for all emerging trends. Post that, you need to assess all that’s required for correcting the problem on hand and taking actions accordingly.
Rest assured, all these key issues are unlikely to hit your project , at least not at the same time or on an ongoing basis. The good news is that most of them can be effectively managed with proper resources, adequate time, and transparent communication modes in place.
All the best for your project’s success!