Managing a project can feel like a juggling act. There are many variables to work with and tasks to complete, and you are required to keep most of them at the top of your mind. You will also need to make notable and impactful adjustments and changes along the way, which can be disorienting. Unsurprisingly, 70% of all projects don’t achieve the desired results, and many fail altogether.
Overall, project management is prone to many challenges that can cause confusion and possibly delay or even derail the project. Many of these challenges recur again and again in many projects, and every competent project manager should be prepared to address and solve them as soon as they come up.
10 common Project Management challenges & their solutions
Identifying a problem is the first step toward solving it. Here is a comprehensive overview of ten common project management challenges. This guide also includes tested and proven solutions to each of these problems.
1. Vague & undefined goals & objectives
What do you want to achieve through the project? It is not enough to picture the project’s goals and objectives in your mind, regardless of how clear they may seem – you must define and articulate them.
A successful project is founded on clear goals and objectives. Many of the project’s aspects, including its plan, will be based on the project goal. Unfortunately, many project’s goals are usually vague or undefined, and most end up in failure, while others waste valuable resources trying to find their bearing.
It is advisable to consult widely with all stakeholders when defining goals and objectives. Adopting reliable project management methodologies for setting goals and objectives helps. The SMART method is reliable, and it requires that your goals be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
2. Internal conflicts
Most projects require teams of experts in various fields to work together in a concerted effort to achieve the set goals. Ideally, project teams should work smoothly. However, differences and disagreements between team members can create a chaotic work environment and compromise the project’s progress and outcomes.
The project manager is responsible for running an efficient, well-coordinated team. Poor communication is the leading cause of inter-team conflict because team members don’t have a shared vision. Transparent and timely communication would help clarify the team’s progress and goals to get all team members on the same page. You will need efficient management approaches tailored to meet different projects’ and teams’ varying needs.
3. Poor communication
Poor communication is a common challenge for project management. For example, it is the leading cause of team conflicts.
Effective communication is vital in project management because individuals and groups within the team should coordinate their roles. Miscommunication and lack of communication create silos that compromise the team members’ productivity, cause delays, and compromise the final outcome.
It is advisable to establish open communication channels when constituting the team. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page from the very start when defining the project’s goals and objectives. It is also important to create one central platform where different team members can exchange and track information.
4. Scope creep
Most projects’ goals, plans, and outcomes change as the project progresses. Minor changes are easy to handle, but major changes can throw the plan into disarray, resulting in delays and failure.
Scope creep refers to how such changes and adjustments increase the project’s scope. Effective project management requires the project manager to be in control of everything. Unfortunately, scope creep changes the plan, creating confusion and new challenges.
A comprehensive plan is the best solution to scope creep. Ideally, the plan should evaluate as many foreseeable opportunities and challenges as possible to avoid unexpected turns during project development. Adopting an agile project management methodology also helps maintain the team’s focus on the goals while continuously evaluating and reviewing the plan to ensure that they are aligned.
5. Budget changes & restrictions
More than 50% of projects usually exceed their allocated budgets. Ideally, the project’s plan should be thorough and detailed enough to develop a reliable estimate of how much the project will cost. However, changes caused by scope creep usually result in additional costs that exceed the allocated budget.
Budget changes restrictions limit access to the resources required to complete the project, causing delays and compromising its outcome. Most notably, the project may grind to a halt if the budget is not increased.
Managing scope creep and developing a comprehensive plan will help you accurately estimate how much the project will cost. It is also advisable to over-estimate the project’s cost by a reasonable range to cater to unforeseen expenses and cover unexpected losses. More importantly, the project manager and team members should identify and solve the causes of resource wastage as they track the project’s progress.
6. Unqualified & under-qualified talent
Ideally, the team working on your project should comprise experts in various fields. Every team member’s contribution is important, and the quality of their input will impact the outcome’s overall quality. Essentially, incompetence in one or more team members would be the hypothetical weak links that may make the whole process crumble.
Finding good talent is becoming increasingly difficult. However, it is important to ensure that everyone in the team (starting with the project manager) has the required skills for the task.
Companies should aim at recruiting talented and skilled employees if they use in-house teams to run their projects. Alternatively, project managers can outsource some of the project’s tasks to managed services providers and choose new team members with matching skills. It is also worth noting that Project Management Software can help improve your team’s productivity and minimize failures.
7. Lack of accountability
Ultimately, the bulk of running a successful project stops at the project manager. However, while the manager has many roles and responsibilities, they cannot do everything. As explained earlier, every team member’s input impacts the project’s outcome, and incompetence can compromise the whole project. Unfortunately, there is usually a lack of accountability among team members, which generally contributes to some of the challenges discussed here.
Ideally, every team member should be accountable and responsible for their work. Good communication is one of the integral requirements for fostering accountability. Making the project’s progress visible to everyone in the team will help keep them on their toes to keep up with the set schedule.
8. Rushed deadlines
Some projects take days or weeks to complete, while others can go on for months or years. Ideally, the amount of work involved in developing and completing the project should determine its timeline and deadline. Unfortunately, many companies and project managers are usually very eager to see their projects’ results, and this often results in rushed, impractical deadlines.
Rushed and impractical deadlines are usually impossible to meet. The pressure to beat the clock can also result in errors and half-baked solutions that compromise the project’s outcome.
Impractical and rushed deadlines further emphasize the need for meticulous, comprehensive planning. It is important to allocate enough time for every task and map out a reasonable project timeline. It is also prudent to over-estimate the timeline by a reasonable range of work on eliminating time and resource wastage to prevent unnecessary delays.
9. Inefficient risk management
How would you handle these and other risks if you experienced them in your projects? Ideally, your risk management plan should answer this and other questions about all foreseen and unforeseen risks and challenges. Unfortunately, project managers cannot anticipate everything, and some project managers aren’t usually adequately prepared when undertaking new projects.
The project manager should work with the team and other essential stakeholders to brainstorm and identify any possible risks and setbacks. It is also worth noting that many Project Management Systems come with in-built risk management solutions.
10. Failure to use project management software
Research shows that only one in four organizations use professional project management software, which helps explain the high project failure rate. In contrast, three out of four of all successful projects use project management software.
Project management software helps improve team members’ productivity and improve collaboration. It also helps with complex tasks such as data analytics and risk management. You can choose reliable project management software from hundreds of vendors.
Is it your dream to become a project manager? Pathstream can get you started on your path to your new career. We offer a range of high-value courses and certificates in project management. We also offer other programs including:
- The Tableau Data Analytics Certificate
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We will put our vast educational materials and resources at your disposal to help equip you with the right project manager qualifications and skills to solve these and other challenges. There is a spot waiting for you, and our reputable institution will help you unlock many rewarding opportunities in the job market. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you.
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