There’s never a dull moment working as a project manager, with so many complex elements and things going on to get the job done. It’s no secret that you need to be on top of your game in this industry to ensure that everything is going to plan, running on time and sticking to the budget.
Just like an industry it comes with its highs and its lows and in this article, we uncover some of the common gripes that project managers are faced with and some tips to help.
Challenge #1: Unclear guidelines
With many moving parts, it can sometimes feel more like a balancing act at a circus than managing a major project. This is where taking control and establishing clear guidelines and expectations from the very start of the project become imperative.
Understanding the scope of the project at hand and what is required to achieve it successfully, needs to be outlined from day one. Not setting appropriate goals and objectives can lead to a range of problems like being poorly resourced, issues with stakeholders and overall failure of the project.
Once you have an idea of what goals need to be set, make sure they are also realistic and communicated clearly to your stakeholders, team and anyone else involved with the project. Your goals also need to be measurable so you can track the progress of the project along the way.
Tips to help:
- If you are not already familiar with the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound), try incorporating these principals into your goal planning
- Invest in programs and apps that are designed to help with setting and tracking goals of your projects
- Break your goals down even further to get a true picture of all the tasks that will be involved. That way there are no surprises and you won’t be left feeling overwhelmed
Challenge #2: Change in scope
The term ‘scope creep’ is a popular term in the project management world and relates to how projects can quickly change from their original agreed requirements over time.
It would be nice if everything went according to plan, but when it comes to project management there are so many variables that can change, and which are out of your control. These changes can have a flow on impacting things like your project schedule, budget, other costs and resource distribution.
Tips to help
When managed efficiently, this doesn’t need to cause too many issues for the overall success of your projects. Here’s a few ways you can manage it:
- Be proactive from the start when you are outlining the scope and details of the project
- Use Agile project management systems like Scum to help prioritise and focus on different goals within your team
Challenge #3: Conflict in the team
Having a mix of different people and opinions within your team, means isn’t always going to be smooth sailing. Like any workplace, there is always the risk of conflict occurring, but as a project manager it falls on your shoulders to keep it under control.
Factors like poor leadership and lack of direction are common reasons for conflict within a team, something which cannot be ignored no matter how big or small your team may be.
Tips to help
- Take the time to try and gauge what the cause of the problem is and work on ways to resolve it
- Make sure that the communication channels in your team are clear and transparent
Challenge #4 Lack of risk management
There’s always an opportunity for risk to occur, impacting your project management business. Fortunately, there are some things that you can control like ensuring that you have the appropriate types of business insurance in place to safeguard it from the consequences of unwanted incidents and accidents.
Some of the issues you can face as a project manager include accidentally providing incorrect advice to a client, poor management of a project or even being faced with a cyber-attack. Not having the right coverages in place could spell disaster for your business if a claim were to occur.
Not only are there the claim related costs and the time involved with the whole process, but there’s the potential for your reputation to be damaged beyond repair, a challenge no project manager ever wants to face.
Tips to help
- Arrange your business insurance well before you start giving any advice or dealing with clients
- Understand the different types of business insurance policies that are available and how they can protect your project management business
Challenge #5: Communication breakdown
Communication is one area of project management that cannot afford to have major issues. Handling the different aspects and those involved with the project means there needs to be clear processes, channels and workflows in place to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to the project at hand.
Poor communication can lead to a lack of teamwork, misunderstandings and even eventuating in a potential project failure. Luckily you avoid things getting out of control by putting some measures in place.
Tips to help:
- Prevention is better than cure, so it’s important to be observant with all aspects of communication. The minute you feel there are gaps in understanding or things aren’t going to plan, get it sorted before it becomes an issue.
- Have regular meetings to touch base and give others a chance to communicate any concerns they may have
- Keep all the project management and communications information central. Having too many programs to keep on top of can cause room for information to get lost or misunderstood.
Challenge #6: Unrealistic deadlines
Having a solid knowledge of how long a project could potentially take and the resources involved is one of the keys to a successful project management business. All too often project managers promise the world and fail to deliver the goods.
Overpromising and underdelivering with expected time frames is something which can be easily managed with a bit of care and planning.
Tips to help:
- Have a clear understanding of your team, their skills and workload to work on a realistic timeframe to deliver the project
- It’s better to get the job done properly than to rush it, creating more problems than you need
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*As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. The information contained on this web page is general only and should not be relied upon as advice.