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4 Killing Project Management Mistakes to Avoid

4 Killing Project Management Mistakes to Avoid

What are the killing project management mistakes that certainly lead to project failure?

Organizations all over the world have been trying their best to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget. The problem is, history and in turn statistics says otherwise. The Chaos Report (Standish), the OASIG Study and many of the recent survey, studies and findings points to the considerably high failure rate of projects.

How To Avoid Project Management Mistakes

Given the nature of various large infrastructure projects, large IT Projects and similar projects, there is so much at stake. All stakeholders involved in these projects are cautious and would like to avoid project failure at any cost. A McKinsey study revealed the nature of project failure across industries such as cost-overrun, slipped timeline. So much so, that some of these project failure have threatened the existence of companies.

The point really is, if the projects your company has taken up are in similar situations, you are not exception, certainly now. But you don’t want to end up like one of those. So what can you do? What can you do to avoid project failure?

Mitigate Those Risks, Address Those Issues

Project Management MistakesThe real reasons that results in project failure can be different for one company to another and in fact reason behind project failure can be different from one project to another. What are the killer project management mistakes that certainly lead to project failure?

Let’s look at four killer project management mistakes organizations make and how to avoid those mistakes.

Project Management Mistakes #1: We Got No Standard Process

Lack of project management processes

Project management professionals strongly believe that there is no easy alternative to predictable and repeatable project management process. The lack of standard, predictable and repeatable process just makes project management chaos.

What are your answers following questions

– How do you accept new project requests?

– How do you manage project scope changes?

– How do you communicate project delivery timeline, status to team and other stakeholders?

– How do you manage issues, risks and other project escalations?Not Measuring Project Success -Project Management Mistakes

The answer lies in the well-defined/standard and repeatable project management process. The lack of standard process will leave your team in struggling situation, not knowing what to do with new request, issues, risk, how to document it, how to proceed further, whom to approach, how to address escalation, etc.

Yet one should keep in mind that standard process does not mean inflexibility. You need not accept project scope change/ project change request as it is. But if business situation require certain project changes justified for greater benefits, your project management process should have that leanness.

Project Management Mistakes #2: Not Knowing the Real Problem

Lack of clear project requirements

A: We have kicked-off new project?

B: Great.

B: What problem will this project solve?

A: Hmm. This project will bring down the supply chain cost by 10 percentage, reduce the manual error to x percentage and logistic delay to y percentage.

Do you find this conversation meaningful? And as you though it right, the people involved in the project know exact problem they are trying address.

But if you are not sure of

– The precise problem you are trying solve

– The exact quantified outcome expected with delivery of the project

– The success indicator to be achieved for you project

no matter how much resources, planning you do for your project, it will not SUCCEED in real sense.

Within a given project, not planning right or not having rightly skilled and experienced people will just contribute to project delays and cost overrun.

Project Management Mistakes #3: I Wasn’t Aware of This

Lack of proper communication

One of the study published by ComputerWorld highlighted poor project communication as a number ONE reason of project failure. Similar study published at TheInformationWeek also points toward same direction – poor communication and unrealistic scheduling are main culprit of project failure.

Project manager really need to avoid this project management mistake. When project stakeholders are not on the same page, I’d say project delivery can happen only by miracle. And as we know, in this real project management world, miracles are rare, if not absent.

As I wrote earlier, project communication is not any ad hoc project activity. Every time you have to note customer requirement, to seek budget/cost approval, to inform team meber of their assignment/delivery timeline, to highlight project issue/risk to customer – you need to communicate. In fact, project communication plan is one of the important aspect of project planning.

Project management professionals should have answers to some of the following questions

  • Whom | What | How | When
  • Who you are going to have project communication with?
  • What are you going to communicate?
  • What are you going to say, write?
  • How are you going to communication – phone, email, written paper? Complex language, simple language, code language?
  • When are you going to tell project stakeholder – meeting, call, before milestone is achieved/missed or after due date are passed, etc.

Remember, high performance team communicate effectively and project management software facilitate such communication & collaboration. You’d certainly like to get to that stage of highly performing team having clear, transparent communication.

Project Management Mistakes #4: That Wasn’t My Problem

No Review, Not learning from Mistakes or Resistance to Improve

Nobody wants to be on the losing side. That’s okay, it is a human nature. But projects may fail, how do you treat/accept failure? That you wouldn’t accept that project ever failed? Would you start a blame game?

Despite of perfect planning and perfect team being on your side, things can go wrong. And when it goes wrong, there could be mistakes made along the way. Don’t let these mistakes go in vain. Not learning from these mistakes will be another big mistake you will be making.

Not learning from mistake, not improving project management will be another failure-in-waiting.


Your life can be become easier with the right project management system. ZilicusPM is the right PM tool for you and your team. Get started now.

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I am a co-founder of Zilicus Solution and I write about project management, collaboration, productivity, project management software, cloud computing, requirement management and business empowerment.