Here are some of the common problems that plague projects that will hopefully bring awareness more quickly when they start to occur so you can put strategies and focus to correct quickly and be back on track to delivering a high payoff project on time.
- Lose focus on who the real customer is and what will make them happy. You need to be relentlessly focused on who your customer is and what they demand. In both small and large projects, it is easy to fall into the trap of internal objectives, scope decisions that are not what the customer would do. This is a common mistake of great PM’s. When project success matters, it serves me to focus the team and project relentlessly on what the customer is asking for.
- Communication flow in all directions through team, stakeholders, customers, sponsors. For successful communication plans, it is important to collaborate with the project team, customers, end users, sponsors for all impacted groups and type of information that needs to flow. It is not always your job to push communication but bottom line is you are responsible to make sure it happens and its timely and effective. It is proven statistic that it takes multiple times, in multiple methods to get the message across. Error on the side of too much than not enough as it only builds trust and alignment and contributes to gaining successful support along the way.
- Jump into execution mode without gaining alignment, common expectations and creating plans. This is often the default for new PM but even the most experienced can fall victim. Take the time to map out the “board” of decision makers, who has influence and what you need to go to gain support. Build relationships and alignment to the project goals so there are common expectations and clear objectives. The next step is to build a plan. Taking the time to plan will reduce time later that results in thrash in implementation activities.
- Lack of focus and strategic priorities agreed to. This can lead to trying to do too much at the same time. As the leader of the project it is your job to keep focus of the team on the right areas, remove obstacles and ensure successful payoff at end of project. This takes ruthless prioritization, this means working with the customer to be realistic when you see conflicts, making trade-off decisions and driving clear priorities that are aligned.
- Lack of anticipation of change, future needs and the inevitable change that will occur in any project. Every project has changes, but it is easy to get caught up in the great plan that you have developed rather than all the factors that impact it. Take the time to brainstorm, gather feedback from experts on where trouble areas may be, what scenarios could occur, and anticipate what alternatives would be to stay on track. Your customers are depending on it and being prepared with a plan is critical.
What other problems have you encountered along your project journey’s?