By: Kathy Kent Toney, CEO & Founder of Kent Business Solutions
Most business leaders over the years have experienced the failure of at least one project. In those instances, many executives have looked at what techniques would help to ensure success for future projects.
One different way to view these failures is to hone in on what didn’t work in those situations. Flipping the switch on these scenarios can provide valuable insight into what could’ve worked.
Along those lines, what are some common mistakes that project managers can avoid to help ensure success?
1. Failing to Think Outside the Box to Avoid Potential Problems
Unfortunately, many Project Management (PMs) are so focused on putting out fires instead of thinking outside the box to help prevent the occurrence of possible challenges. Great PMs are tuned into what could potentially go wrong. They are forward-looking, ask questions, and are on the lookout for problems before they ever occur.
2. Prioritizing the Unimportant over the Important
Too often, PMs will focus on minutia instead of the most important things: ensuring the client is happy, tracking to budget, and keeping the project on time, to name a few.
For instance, it doesn’t matter nearly as much if someone hasn’t updated a chart or properly marked a task as 40% instead of 50% complete. A good PM constantly weighs what’s most important and tackles those items first.
3. Under-utilizing the Best Aspects of the Team
When PMs don’t take the time to understand their individual team members’ strengths and weaknesses, this can sabotage the team functioning at more optimum levels.
For example, Bob may excel at performing a particular task, but instead, the PM assigns the task to Suzy who isn’t as skilled at that particular job. Also, some team members may require more oversight than others. Finding out these abilities and assigning team members to perform tasks that match those skills can tremendously boost team productivity.
4. Neglecting to Regularly Test Early-On Assumptions
At the beginning of projects, PMs often have to make assumptions based on a scarcity of available information. When more data becomes available, it’s important to test and revise assumptions against this information. Failure to do so can result in serious errors that can affect project success.
These are a few examples of steps PMs can take to avoid issues that can lead to project failure.
Speaking of avoiding failure, Scrum is a wonderful project management approach that helps identify problems before they ever become issues.
As a certified Professional Scrum Master, I’ve experienced this reality repeatedly in my line of work. I’ve also seen how the use of Scrum typically decreases the amount of time to finish projects, and it doesn’t matter what type of project it is.
If you have any projects that you would like to undertake but have limited internal resources to complete them, or you are stuck in the middle of a project with little hope of moving forward, I’d love to have a conversation with you!
In the meantime, check out one of my case studies of how the use of Scrum helped a local manufacturer successfully launch a new product in record time.