12 Common Project Management Mistakes--and How to Avoid Them

IT executives and project management experts share their tips for avoiding some of the most common--and costly--project management mistakes.

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff
Wed, September 26, 2012

CIO

project management
So many projects, so much mismanagement. That's the refrain of many IT executives. Indeed, even with project management software, IT projects often wind up taking longer (much longer) than planned and costing more than budgeted.

Why do good projects go bad? CIO.com surveyed dozens of IT executives and project managers and came up with a list of 12 Common Project Management Mistakes -- along with ways to avoid these often time-consuming and potentially costly problems.

Project Management Mistake No. 1: Not Assigning the Right Person to Manage the Project. "Typically during resource allocation, most of the effort is focused on finding the right resources other than finding the right project manager," explains Sudhir Verma, vice president of the Consulting Services & Project Management Office at Force 3, a technology solutions provider. Indeed, too often "project managers get picked based on availability, not necessarily on skill set." However, an inadequately trained and/or inexperienced project manager can doom a project.

Solution: Choose a project manager whose skill set(s) match the project requirements.

[Related: Six Attributes of Successful Project Managers]

Project Management Mistake No. 2: Failing to Get Everyone on the Team Behind the Project. Too often, projects are doomed to fail because they didn't get enough support from the departments and people affected by and involved in the project. Either managers: "1) Didn't make clear what everyone's role was. 2) Didn't describe the personal payoff everyone would get when the project was completed successfully. 3) Didn't tell how each person's contributions to the project would be evaluated. And/or 4) Failed to generate a sense of urgency about the project, leading the team to think business as usual will be fine," argues Bill Rosenthal, CEO of Communispond, which provides employee training on how to communicate effectively.

Solution: "The project manager should start by calling the team together (being certain to include off-site staff via the best technology available) and delivering a presentation about the project and its significance in a way that gets everybody fired up."

[Related: How to Become a Better Communicator With Your IT Staff]

Project Management Mistake No. 3: Not Getting Executive Buy-in.

Solution: "Somebody at the higher levels of the organization needs to own the project from start to finish and be personally vested in its success," says Casey Halloran, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Costa Rican Vacations & Panama Luxury Vacations. "When [a project] has no clear head, things tend to fall apart."

Project Management Mistake No. 4: Putting Too Many Projects Into Production at Once. "Most managers think that they can get more done by starting all projects at once, but in reality, it's counterproductive," says Sanjeev Gupta, CEO of Realization, a Silicon Valley firm that helps organizations complete projects faster. "Multitasking slows people down, hurts quality and, worst of all, the delays caused by multitasking cascade and multiply through the organization as people further down the line wait for others to finish prerequisite tasks."

Solution: "To stop these productivity losses, a good first step is to reduce work in progress (WIP) by 25-50 percent," he says. "This reduces the back and forth and makes managers and experts more responsive in dealing with issues and questions. Though counter-intuitive, reducing the number of open projects by 25-50 percent can double task completion rates."

Continue Reading

Our Commenting Policies