The top 9 Project Management mistakes (and tips to avoid them)

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Here we explore some of the most common mistakes projects managers make and also give some advice on how to avoid them. Take a look!

We all make mistakes, even the most experienced Project Managers (PMs). However, when it comes to Project Management, silly mistakes can sometimes end up causing delays, affecting the team’s performance or leading to project failure. Luckily, there are certain things PMs can apply on a daily basis to help them avoid some common mistakes, and we have listed them here.

1. Not setting clear objectives or project goals

The top 9 Project Management mistakes (and tips to avoid them)

Not setting clear and concrete objectives, from the start, is a common mistake that can end up sinking a whole project. Having a clear direction to go back to and follow when things get out of hand is essential for helping the team stay focused. Define and have the objective of your project clear; otherwise, team members may feel a bit lost regarding their responsibilities and deliverables.

Tip: Hold a kickoff meeting with the entire team and the client to set expectations from the very beginning and build consensus on the project’s direction. Clarify and ensure that everyone understands what they need to know.

2. Doing a wrong estimation of time and budget

PMs and even clients often underestimate the time and money that takes a project to be finished. In order to keep clients happy and satisfied, PMs frequently give optimistic or unrealistic timelines and numbers.

However, the lack of knowledge and wrong estimations can lead to missed deadlines or employees working overtime and causing burnout. Regarding cost estimation and budgeting, an inaccurate estimation can lead to project cost overruns.

Tip: In order to minimize the errors in estimation, resort to your team’s experience to understand the resources and time required to complete the project.

Do not miss this reading: Software estimation, planning, and forecasting

3. Not breaking down large projects into smaller ones

When a large project appears, the team can feel overwhelmed and unable to accomplish all the tasks. This feeling increases if they are working on too many projects simultaneously.

Tip: Divide large projects into small and manageable pieces so that team members feel more confident to tackle them easier. Take some time to talk with each member of the team so they can estimate the amount of work it will take to complete each task.

4. Not prioritizing projects or tasks

The top 9 Project Management mistakes (and tips to avoid them)

When there are multiple ongoing projects, team members need to know which projects or tasks are more urgent or higher priority to organize themselves and be more productive. Poor prioritization can lead to delays, missed project goals, client dissatisfaction, and even project failure.

A good PM needs to be able to identify those tasks that have to be done first or that need extra attention.

Tip: Planning is key to everything. Prioritize work weekly, since new things can come up on a daily basis. Project Management tools are very useful for helping to keep your team organized.  If changes occur, make sure they are communicated to the team.

5. Failure to communicate properly

Although it might seem strange, among the Project Management mistakes, the inability to have an effective and proper communication is one of the most common.

Many PMs communicate a lot in the beginning, but once the project is underway, they do not pay as much attention to it and neglect frequent communication with the team.

As a PM, you need to keep everyone informed with the latest decisions, project status, risks, and issues. Lack of communication will lead to confusion and misunderstandings, as well as a loss of trust in the PM and the project itself.

Tip: Schedule daily or weekly meetings with team members and clients to ensure frequent communication. Use the time to provide regular updates to your team and collect feedback.

Take a look at this infographic: 3 Tips to get the best out of each Scrum Meeting

6. Unable to manage scope creep

The scope of a project can change day to day with the inclusion of additional request or features. If these pile-up, they can end up affecting the quality of the final product.

PMs need to have the ability to handle changes effectively as well as have a clear and defined project scope so that clients and managers are on the same page and have the same expectations.

Tip: Make sure changes are worthwhile and only allow additional requests if they are critical to the success of the product. Before rejecting scope changes, discuss the request with the client and offer explanations or possible alternatives.

7. Micromanaging

Another common error many PM’s make is micromanaging their teams, trying to control and monitor everything. Overcontrolling can end up being counterproductive as it can destroy your team’s trust and lead to a lack of confidence and motivation.

It is okay to be a mindful PM but always in the right measure. It is not about managing every detail of their work.

Tip: Hold scheduled meetings to get updates and progress reports and use this time to emphasize what you think is necessary. Build trust among team members and try to create a positive work environment.

8. Not changing direction when necessary

The top 9 Project Management mistakes (and tips to avoid them)

Things don’t always go as planned. Many times projects have to face a number of different challenges such as unexpected modifications, last-minute task additions, or missed deadlines.

Under these circumstances, a good PM should have the ability and determination to adapt to these changes, modifying the approach, adding new resources, or starting all over. However, many times, PMs are stubborn and resistant to change and prefer to continue in the same direction they were instead of communicating with the team to figure out possible solutions to project issues.

Tip: Communication, transparency, and reporting are the key elements when things are not going as we planned. Communicate with your team members and clients about project complications that may appear and try to be flexible when it comes to changing the course of things.

9. Not using adequate project management tools

Without Project Management tools, there can’t be a flow of information throughout the team, and PMs and clients can’t see how much has been done. Nowadays, there are plenty of digital tools and platforms that can help PMs to be more efficient.

Apart from helping everyone keep a record of the project’s status and completed tasks, they are also great tools for maximizing the team’s performance and improving their productivity. They also help integrate all important information in one central place.

Related content: Project Management vs. Leadership

Tip: Start implementing PM-integrated tools and get things done faster. Jira, Azure DevOps Server, and Backlog are some good examples.

Final thoughts

Often, these Project Management mistakes can end up affecting the whole project or even leading to project failure. However, with good planning and estimation and the right communication with your team and all stakeholders, they can all be easily avoided.

Bear this list in mind to be clear about what you shouldn’t do and help you keep on track!

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