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How to Deal with the 5 Most Common Project Management Problems

Everybody talks about how to get better at project management, by reviewing lessons learned and best practices, but few talk about the most common issues project managers encounter in the field.

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The Most Common Project Management Issues Are People Related

Project Management Is Not Easy

An article in the Harvard Business Review which analyzed close to 1,500 IT projects found that one in six projects had a cost overrun of 200% on average and a schedule overrun of almost 70%. The average overrun on all projects was 27%.

Benoit Hardy-Vallee in a Gallup News article summarizes the main area preventing further improvements in project management:

... the rate of failure for projects has not really decreased -- and there's a reason for that. It's time to update project management not with more methodologies, but with more emotional content. Employees' and stakeholders' disengagement can make a project fail, but behavior-based management can make projects succeed.

We also believe that most serious project management issues today are people related, so here is our list with the top 5 most common project management issues:

  1. Lack of Accountability
  2. Failure to Manage Change
  3. Breakdown in Communications
  4. Lack of Engagement By Stakeholders
  5. Lack of Resources and Skills

If these issues were properly addressed and managed most other project management issues like lack of methodologies or tools would just go away.

1. Lack of Accountability

This is a big one. Accountability in the workplace is a mindset that takes time and a concerted effort to develop. CommandHound published The Ultimate Guide to Accountability in the Workplace as a way to explore the issues and best practices around this topic.

A project team could have all the resources, skills, and time required to successfully execute the project at hand, however, without a sense of accountability all those assets may go to waste.

A culture of accountability requires that team members believe in what they are doing and that their performance will be noticed, acknowledged, and rewarded when it is all said and done.

CommandHound is an accountability tool that has been built from the ground up to make sure things get done. CommandHound is not only able to assign tasks or milestones to individual team members but it is also able to escalate them when they are not completed as expected, and to tie completion performance to each individual's performance review process to close the accountability loop.

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CommandHound Drives Accountability By Tracking Individual Completion Performance

2. Failure to Manage Change

Scope creep, overruns, and delays are often the result of a failure to manage change. Change is a constant in every project and it must be tightly managed. Everybody in the team must understand this.

A very clear and simple process must be put in place to identify and efficiently process changes as they occur. Changes must be promptly sized, evaluated, and a decision to whether dismiss or integrate the change into the project must be made in an orderly manner.

3. Breakdown in Communications

Team members, stakeholders, subject matter experts, vendors, and executives are some of the myriad of constituents that project managers must manage if they are to be successful. Failure to effectively communicate and to effectively manage expectations is a quick way to loose the support required to move things forward in complex projects.

4. Lack of Engagement By Stakeholders

If the stakeholders for the project that you are managing are not engaged, are not participating, are not contributing, or do not care about what you are doing, why should any of your team members?

Holding all stakeholders accountable for the success of the project at all stages is critical. Executive support must be leveraged when needed to drive engagement.

5. Lack of Resources or Skills

Underfunded or understaffed project with under-skilled team members are doom to fail from the get go. Lack of proper planning and estimation upfront often results in the realization that the task at hand is impossible to achieve and a snowball of frustrating and despair in the team ensues. Make sure to spend enough time planning and understanding what needs to be done - scope, constraints, risks, dependencies, contingencies, etc.

It Is All About The People

As we mentioned, instilling a sense of commitment and accountability in the team is critical. Would like to learn more about how CommandHound can help you avoid the most common project management issues discussed above?

Learn More About CommandHound's Accountability Solution