Avoiding Project Management Pitfalls - dummies

By Nick Graham

Part of Project Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

The key objective in project management is to complete your project successfully. That often means steering clear of the potholes in the road. This handy list of ten common pitfalls helps you avoid some of the problems that plague unsuccessful projects.

  • Lack of clear objectives: Nobody’s really sure what the project is about, much less are people agreed on it.

  • Lack of risk management: Things go wrong that someone could easily have foreseen and then controlled to some degree or even prevented.

  • No senior management ‘buy in’: Senior managers were never convinced and so never supported the project, leading to problems such as lack of resource. Neither did those managers exercise normal management supervision as they routinely do in their other areas of responsibility.

  • Poor planning: Actually, that’s being kind, because often the problem is that no planning was done at all. It’s not surprising, then, when things run out of control, and not least because nobody knows where the project should be at this point anyway.

  • No clear progress milestones: This follows on from poor planning. The lack of milestones means nobody sees when things are off track, and problems go unnoticed for a long time.

  • Understated scope: The scope and the Project Plan are superficial and understate both what the project needs to deliver and the resource needed to deliver it. Project staff (often team members) then discover the hidden but essential components later in the project. The additional work that is necessary then takes the project out of control, causing delay to the original schedule and overspending against the original budget.

  • Poor communications: So many projects fail because of communication breakdown, which can stem from unclear roles and responsibilities and from poor senior management attitudes, such as not wanting to hear bad news.

  • Unrealistic resource levels: It just isn’t possible to do a project of the required scope with such a small amount of resource – staff, money or both.

  • Unrealistic timescales: The project just can’t deliver by the required time, so it’s doomed to failure.

  • No change control: People add in things bit by bit – scope creep. Then it dawns on everyone that the project’s grown so big that it can’t be delivered within the fixed budget or by the set deadline.