How to avoid project management mistakes

Whether you’re a rookie when it comes to project management or you have quite a few projects under your belt, it can be easy to find yourself making mistakes that take a toll on your productivity and the quality of your finished product. It is important to identify, keep track of, and learn from mistakes in order to develop solutions and become a better, more efficient project manager. Costly mistakes or errors have the potential to derail an entire project, but they are very avoidable, if you know how. Here are some of the most common mistakes that project managers experience. 

Lack of skills or resources

Not having access to the correct resources can cause a project to fail before it even begins. Before taking on a project, make sure that you will have the resources to complete it. You could also be lacking employees with the technical skills necessary to complete the project. This isn’t your employees’ fault- you likely hired them for a different skill set than is needed for this project- you can’t anticipate the needs of every project before you start! If you start a project and realize it may be too much for you to take on due to lack of resources or skills, be up front with the client early on and let them know that you may be a bit over your head. 

Failure to communicate well

This may be the most common and most difficult project management mistake, but it is relatively simple to avoid! Oftentimes, project managers will feel as though they are nagging employees by asking them to get their portion of the project completed, and this results in poor communication as the project managers fail to reach out, check in, and update employees as often as they should. You have to let that go, don’t worry about whether or not the participants of the project feel you are nagging them with constant updates and status checks. Communication is key to completing any project successfully, and employees often appreciate constant communication and constructive feedback during the project rather than criticism after the deadline. Don’t be afraid to communicate often with the employees working on the project!

Skipping steps to save time

While skipping steps may feel like it saves you time, it probably doesn’t in the long run. Skipping steps can cause you to make mistakes that you will later have to go back and fix, which can cause a ripple effect of repercussions throughout the entirety of the project. This can lead to a domino of things throughout the project you will have to fix, taking more time than if you hadn’t skipped the step to “save time” in the first place. Remember that each step is crucial to the success of the project, you should carefully navigate and complete each step before moving on to the next in order to ensure a successful completion of the project.

Not addressing the slacker on your team

No one wants to call out the slacker. It sucks, but it has to be done. If you don’t address the slacker, they will weigh down your project, slow your productivity, and it is likely other employees will feel as though they can get away with giving less than 100% effort towards projects. Also, having a slacker in a large team attempting to complete a project can lead to resentment and negative attitudes within the team as it feels as though not everyone is pulling their own weight. Although it can be a bit intimidating to confront the slacker on your team, this problem must be addressed in order to foster a positive team environment. Try to build a “culture of accountability” within the team. By holding everyone accountable, you will be less likely to encounter as many slacker problems.

Failure to correctly estimate time and budget

Problems can erupt when a project is nearing its deadline but isn’t anywhere close to completion. Or maybe you start to go over budget and your client begins to get angry with you. These are things no project manager wants or expects to happen, but these mistakes happen quite often, and can cause extreme stress to the project manager, the team, and the client. These problems are caused by the inability to correctly estimate the time and budget necessary to complete a project. This mistake goes hand in hand with our initial mistake from the beginning of this article, a mistake in terms of lack of resources or skills. 

The solution, again, is quite simple. Before you begin a project, take the time to break down just how much time and money it will take to complete the project. Be up front with the client about exactly how much time and money you envision the project requiring. Over estimating a bit can be helpful, as it gives you some wiggle room to take a bit more time or use a bit more of the budget without going over, and if you don’t end up needing the amount you overestimated for, your client will be pleased that the project was completed before time and under budget! 

With good planning and effective communication, many project management mistakes can be easily avoided. Next time you begin a project, keep these common mistakes and their solutions in mind to have a smoother, more successful project for your client!

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