Managing a project is a very serious job and when we think of the term Project Management, it always sounds very technical (and challenging!). To run or manage a project, you are required to plan, initiate, implement and monitor the progress of a team to achieve goals.
Every job comes with its own set of challenges and difficulties. But what are the biggest problems we face as project managers? Here are 6 of the most common problems that project managers face and how can they be avoided or resolved.
Problem #1 Undefined Goals
The problem of undefined goals is somewhat very common because if the project’s goal is not clear from the outset, it will be difficult to communicate and delegate work to the team, and prioritize tasks as per their importance. Owing to this one mistake, a project manager can fail to deliver what the client needs. The goals and targets need to be well-defined right from the beginning of the project and set out clearly so all members of the team understand and implement them.
Solution: This is where an experienced project manager handles the problem. Successful project managers involve their team and let them know up front about who is responsible for what. She knows how to set up the decision-making structure, including where all the key stakeholders fit.
Problem # 2 Meeting Deadlines
There are times when the team doesn't take responsibility for their work, the quality of the work gets compromised and even deadlines and hours slip through the cracks. Similarly, vague accountability can lead to team members accusing other coworkers for unfinished tasks or low quality work.
Solution: Dealing with this situation smartly is the project manager’s job. To avoid missing deadlines, project managers should assign their team members specific deadlines for their parts of the project and a smart method would be to always give a date which is much earlier than the actual deadline. This is the buffer period in case there are any unforeseen circumstances. The best thing to do here is to use a time tracking tool to keep a check on efficiency levels of each of your team members. If something needs to be changed or corrected, there is plenty of time for changes and another thorough review. As a manager, you can also think of breaking the project into manageable portions, or milestones. This technique greatly helps as it gives you enough time to make necessary changes before final delivery.
Problem # 3 Resource Deprivation
When working on new projects, looking for resources within the organization can be a real challenge for the project manager. But what's even more challenging is when a project needs more resources and none are available. It's very important for new projects to be planned and organized in advance and their resource requirement gauged and allocated so work can be delivered on time.
Solution: An experienced project manager would not face resource-related issues if he knows how to make use out of his IT managers. Exceptional IT managers are known for balancing supply resources and demand break/fix issues alongside the project. One way IT experts do this is by using a project management system that provides resource visibility and forecasting tools, making project manager’s life easy so they can quickly make decisions, re-allocate resources and eventually manage schedules efficiently.
Problem #4 Lack of communication between team members and stakeholders
When there is a difference of opinion among team members or stakeholders about a project, it can greatly affect the end result. This difference of opinion can eat up man hours and will naturally decrease efficiency.
Solution: A smart project manager every now and then, checks with teammates either by phone or in person, to get an overview of how things are progressing. Such a problem won’t arise at all if the project manager constantly reports current project status and encourages feedback from the team and stakeholders/ clients. This problem can be surpassed if you provide all team members with a view of the project plan, which can be achieved through project viewing software.
Problem #5 Not being aware of the problem, or not foreseeing one
Timely identification of an existing or potential problem pertaining to the project can save a whole lot of time, energy and efforts in the long run. It is extremely important for a project manager to stay on top of potential problems and foresee if any challenges are likely to arise in the near future.
For example; if an app Development Company is working closely with a client on their app and the project manager knows that the launch date is near. Let’s say during this crucial period of hectic schedules and long work hours, if the project manager sees that his team’s manpower needs to be increased for timely delivery of the project, he must get his HR team into action and hire new people or get freelancers to help out. Otherwise, the quality of the project will suffer and there’s a big chance that deadlines may also be missed.
Solution: A project manager should conduct weekly meetings with team members and stakeholders and if necessary, monitor if everything was achieved as per the set timelines.
Another easy way through which a project manager can spot a potential problem is by using collaborative task tracking software. Team members with updated tasks on schedule get extra time to get work done. This also helps individuals who are behind schedule, or who aren't reporting their progress.
Problem # 6: Poorly defined scope
At times when the scope of the project is unclear, it is difficult for the project manager to manage, control and thus create positive results. Unclear goals or project scope can also lead to confusion, which can be an added challenge for a project manager.
Solution: A skilled project manager knows how to evaluate and assess change requests, implement approved changes and then communicate impacts with stakeholders. He would instantly document the change, validate, assess its impacts, find an alternate solution and have the change request approved before implementing the solution. An experienced PM will plan the project, do proactive risk and quality management throughout, and not just react to changes.
Project management is an extensive field, is not just about task management, and schedules. The ideal situation is when you relate to each member of the team and regularly remain in touch with them. By working closely with your team and putting little efforts, not only will you save yourself from potential problems, you will also gain the team’s trust, and eventually their effort in the project will increase.
About the author
Alma Causey is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her and share her experiences and expressions through her blogs. Find her on Twitter as @Almacausey.