Why Projects Fail - 10 Major Pitfalls You Need To Avoid (Part III)

10 Major Project Management Pitfalls To Avoid.

In earlier posts we looked at 10 potential project management pitfalls that can lead to project failure. But just knowing these pitfalls is not enough, we need to have a well thought way (i.e. project management processes) and implementation to avoid/address these pitfalls. Letís look at how these pitfalls can be managed/addressed.

Clearly decide & layout priorities, define success indicators

"I canít talk right now, I have too many things to do today", sounds similar?

One of the issues project management professionals face is too many things to deliver. If you are working in such competitive environment where many projects are lined up for project delivery, you really need to decide and pen-down priorities of the project activities to deliver. You cannot work-on-AllofThem-at-same-time with same rigor and attention.

"Our vendor has done ERP implementation project for us, but we really donít know how much useful it is for the last standing guy in our company."

Now the question is - on what basis would you term a project delivery to be successful or failed? And thatís where a clear understanding of success parameters comes into picture. Once you have prioritized your project work, next thing one need to do is define parameters to evaluate the progress, success of a project. It is more like setting up incremental goals for yourself, your team, your customer and other stakeholders. With such clearly defined success parameters, everyone will have better understanding of success of a project.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

As I said earlier, though it might be considered as management jargon ĎWHAT GETS MEASURED, GETS DONEí, it has real significance for judging project success or failure.

Scope management & project planning are utmost importance

"Plan is nothing, Planning is everything".

I heard one of the executive managers at a conference saying this and I found it really interesting. The essence is, if you have right process in place for project planning, project execution, project communication and overall project management, and if you have followed right processes, the outcome (project plan) will be an obvious entity. The process is important, the focus on right process will help you derive desired outcome.

Project Management - Scope, Cost, Quality, Resource, Risks

"In every User Acceptance Test (UAT) /customer-meeting, customer keeps asking for additional changes to project deliverables"

Gold platting is another major issue for project management professionals. Setting clear ground rules for changes in project scope right in the beginning of the project and consistently following those guideline can save everyone involved in project planning, executive and delivery. When you start working on a project, as a project manager, it is crucial for you to keep asking questions, seeking clarity so that project scope remains sacrosanct.


Sell your project to stakeholders, gain higher management support

Project Management Professionals - sell your skillset, sell projects and situations to stakeholders"You got to tell your story"

As I said earlier, project managers need to tell a story. You got to sell your capability, teamís performance, your project even problems you encounter. When I say sell, donít take the literal meaning. It is about positioning yourself, team, project and project problems. Positioning in such a way that you, your team, your project will be perceived as promise, promise of quality, promise of on-time delivery, promise if reliability; promise of value-benefit. It gives you right visibility and support of customers, higher management and partner.

Of course, you cannot just keep positioning yourself without substance, there has to be a track record (promising) to back up. It implicitly means transparency and communication.


Resource reallocation, building skills or outsourcing

"I have enough guys working on this project, still it is not moving as I was hoping for"

Once you have clear project scope and detailed plan in place, having right project resources in your team is luxury. I am not kidding. It is luxury to have rightly skilled, experienced resources in your team because, every other project manager would like to have it. And thatís when, above point will help you (sell yourself to stakeholders).

Even after you have right set of people in your team, you still have to pay attention to their career progression, listen to their aspirations, and align their aspirations and energies to meet project goals. It would involve training them, building/complementing their skills for overall teamís benefit. Giving them opportunities, visibility to perform.

But if you arenít able to gather right mix of team, you can also consider outsourcing part of your project work with proper checks & balances.

Let me wrap this series briefly two more points

Delegation, regular review, accountability

"If you are not delegating, you are not growing."

True it is. Delegation is not only about your own growth, it is also about growth of team members, growth of project and growth of organization. Again, I would like to caution you not to delegate for just for the sake of it.

With delegation, you also have to make your team members, project leaders accountable for their activities, holding them responsible for their actions. For this, you need to have regular review of your project team, progress of the projects.

Act, Learn, Improve

Be proactive, start working to Eat that frog. Along the way, there will be mistakes, successes; we have to learn from those, improve ourselves, our team, our performance for future assignment.