1. Underestimating your project
When you estimate a project or feature, it is very tempting to look at the sunny-case scenario and only provide best case estimates – especially if you work with a new team who is eager to please. It is also a common mistake to miss out important activities such as management overhead, documentation, rework and training. Contingency is another element which is often left out. The end result, unfortunately, is that the project runs out of money before all of the products are delivered. To read more, go to guidelines for estimating project effort.
2. Poor understanding of the detailed requirements
Many project managers have a superficial understanding of the product’s they need to deliver and how these products fit into the client’s business. They leave requirements gathering to the business analysts, which makes them vulnerable and dependent on subject matter experts for decision making and advice. It is true that you don’t have to be the expert in the domain, but you need enough knowledge that you can successfully steer the project and make effective decisions around risks, issues and quality reviews.
3. Focusing on the urgent; not the important!
We all know that project managers can be insanely busy. Busy dealing with urgent issues, defects and interpersonal conflict. But the busier you are putting out fires, the less time you will have for the really important activities such as planning, building relationships, understanding your client’s business,
motivating your team, reviewing quality etc. The reason you’re likely to spend most of your time on the urgent, is that you have not invested enough time in building up your team to handle the low level detail so that you can be freed up to focus on that which is really important.
4. Failure to properly initiate your project
We all know that failing to plan is planning to fail, but even so, many project managers jump straight into project execution without knowing what they need to deliver, how they will do it, or how much it is likely to cost. I am not an advocate of a waterfall methodology, but even in agile a firm foundation is necessary before you start to commit resources and funding. You need to fully understand what you are building, why you are doing it, how and when you will do it, and how much it is likely to cost. Find out how to initiate and plan your project here.
5. Not keeping your promises
As the project manager it is your job to keep track of the projects activities, risks and issues, and to convey the project’s status honestly and accurately to your client. If you over-promise or say you will do things without doing them, your reputation is at stake and your client will stop believing in you. To build strong relationships with your customer and your team, and to deliver your project successfully, you MUST have accurate information at hand before you make a commitment. This is true for even the smallest of promises.
6. Failure to involve the end users
One of the best ways to ensure that your project is heading in the right direction – and that it will meet your client’s needs – it to gradually show the users what you are building and to listen to the feedback they provide. Unfortunately many project manages fail to do that. They gather the user’s requirements, and then go off and build the product in isolation without incorporating regular demos, prototypes and reviews. If you manage your project in such a static way, you run the risk of building a product which may be what your client wanted, but not what they truly needed.
To improve your project management skills, and learn how to overcome the most common challenges project managers face, study The Project Management Workbook.
If you liked this post, you may also like:
Initiating and Planning Your Project
10 guidelines for estimating project effort
6 principles for building trusting and lasting relationships
with your stakeholders
Top Tips for Gathering Requirements