Five Common Project Pitfalls

With badly managed projects having a significant and costly impact on businesses, demand for skilled project managers continues to rise. Paul Mathison, Senior Project Manager at Storm, sheds some light on common project pitfalls and how to address them.

The author of this page: Paul Mathison
Paul Mathison, Project Planning & Delivery Team Lead Feb 25, 2021

As the demand for experienced project managers continues to rise, companies are beginning to realise the benefit of investing in the correct software and experienced managers to avoid badly managed projects' costly impact. According to a PMI study, companies lose $109 million for every $1 billion invested in projects and programmes. Further, an IBM study showed just 40% of projects meet the three main goals: keeping on schedule, budget, and quality.  

The reasons why projects fail to meet the desired objectives can come down to a number of different things. PMI cites the most common causes to range from the changing of organisational priorities to a limitation in resources. While some may be beyond the control of a project manager, others are not. Below we take a look at the common pitfalls that cause organisation projects to breakdown.

Poor Communication

Good communication is essential to project success, in fact according to IT Cortex, 57% of projects fail due to a breakdown in communications. It is important to be in constant talks with each member of the project team at all times. Choosing the correct communication channels for this is also critical. Good software can improve internal team and client communications as members can collaborate and talk in real-time.  With remote work more established, it is also important that managers can manage virtual project teams; as you incorporate different time zones, communication and time management become more important. Further, having access to tools to easily share insights, project updates and chat on the go can set up the project team for success.

Project Software

Relying on low-end software that lacks necessary functionality can end up being more costly than investing in good, higher-end software due to the cost associated with failed projects. 87% of high-performing companies understand the importance of the increased functionality and efficiency that project management software can bring to a company. However, with many project management software options on the market, it is important to implement one with the correct functionality, scalability and integration abilities required for the business.

People Management

It is essential to align the project team in terms of project scope, deadlines and deliverables, but it's also critical that members of the wider organisation are on board. Correct team project management can only go so far; having an executive sponsor who will support the project is often a big factor in project success. To ensure buy-in from the start, all project stakeholders should know their roles, responsibilities, and the reporting line. Further, project management software can help all members stay up to date with project progress and address any bottlenecks ahead of time.

Not Aligning with Overall Business Objectives

If the project efforts are not aligned with the overall business strategy and goals, project managers can often find themselves without direction or the necessary support. It is more beneficial to ensure project managers clearly understand key business priorities to understand how a project may be prioritised based on different departmental or overall team goals. Planning your project in accordance with company goals can ensure more company members will support and drive the project from within, therefore leading to more success.

Risk management

No matter how well planned out a project may appear, risks can still pose a threat to project success and are often one of the pitfalls that can happen at any stage of the project. Therefore, it essential that project managers take some time to try and foresee possible risks and prepare for them. This should then be communicated to all project team members so their feedback can be incorporated, but mostly so that all members are fully aware of what risks could occur and the best course of action.

There are many possible pitfalls that can cause a project to fail, some that cause a greater impact than others. However, good project management skills and Project management software go hand in hand in setting your team up for successful projects going forward.

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