As a project manager in IT, communications & marketing, I have had to cope with a range of pitfalls which almost all project managers I know are familiar with.
A quick summation and some advice on how to avoid them.
Whatever the scope and type of a project, these issues can jeopardize the whole endeavour. In fact, according to a KPMG survey (2010) of Project Management practices in New Zealand, 70% of organizations had suffered at least one project failure during the previous 12 months.
The most common pitfalls
1. Lack of clear objectives
It sounds obvious but a lack of clear objectives really can jeopardize an entire project.
It’s not only important to set objectives for the sake of analysing and evaluating the project after it has been completed, but it’s also crucial to know how to steer the project during the implementation phase, for example.
2. Lack of senior management involvement
The project doesn’t just need to be sponsored by the company, but hard decisions also have to be taken sometimes and this often needs to be done by someone at C-level.
3. Lack of management buy-in
As mentioned in the previous bullet, the involvement of senior management is an important factor in determining a project’s success.
This also means that the project has to be ‘bought’ by management (‘management buy-in’) especially for projects which bring about significant change within an organization.
Management buy-in will also facilitate acceptance of the change by all stakeholders within the organization.
4. Poor project communication
Even if a project is implemented successfully in a technical sense, it is doomed to fail if there is a lack of awareness or, even worse, a lack of acceptance amongst stakeholders.
To avoid such situations, a strong project/change communication campaign is necessary.
5. A poor business case
Achieving a successful go-live for a project is certainly based on having a successful business case.
A good overview of all essential requirements combined with a touch of realism is essential for success.
6. Unrealistic expectations
Of course, being realistic when scheduling projects, providing enough resources and setting feasible targets, is something that seems evident but is often forgotten.
7. Changing scope during the project
Changes can be made during the implementation of a project but not without a corresponding increase in resources or an extension of the project timeline.
8. Lack of user involvement
This mainly used to be a major issue in IT projects but it’s becoming more and more important in marketing & communication projects too (e.g. the launch of a mobile app).
9. Inexperienced project managers
Keeping a helicopter view of the project and all elements within its scope and coaching people are just some of the project manager’s tasks, usually carried out under a great deal of pressure.
So it makes sense to put someone experienced in charge. This is where sometimes 4P square consultants play a key role.
4P square consultants are trained to avoid these pitfalls.