10 Project Management Pitfalls to Avoid

By Reda Sedrati, CEO of Cloudswave

Many professionals allow their digital projects to fail before they even get off the ground, citing lack of executive buy-in, impossible expectations and more. With proper planning and the right mindset, however, they can easily avoid the 10 most-common project management pitfalls.

Unclear Objectives

Clearly defining a project's objectives is key to finishing a project on-time, on-budget and on-target. Objectives should be actionable and the results easy to measure. If a project's aim is to increase customer satisfaction, the stated objective could be "Increase overall customer satisfaction from 67 percent to 85 percent through the use of a new live chat feature on our website."

Lack of Executive Involvement

Boost the odds of successful project completion by getting executives on board and informed. When speaking with executives, discuss the project in terms that relate to their functional area. The chief financial officer (CFO), for example, will better understand the project's progress in financial terms, whereas the chief marketing officer (CMO) will need to know how it will improve market position.

Lack of Communication

Make regularly scheduled meetings a mandatory part of the process. Those serving as project managers should consider a daily scrum meeting (a 15-minute standing meeting) to make sure everything is progressing without roadblocks or delay. Also consider centralizing project management by taking conversations away from emails and chat to an aggregated platform such as Slack or Trello.

Unclear Project Processes

Keep a close eye on project progress by encouraging team members to follow a clearly defined procedure for submitting changes for approval. With clearly defined processes, it is easy to keep track of what worked and what didn't.

Failure to Learn from Mistakes

Everyone involved in the project should be able to critique work and apply what they've learned. If the team fails to learn from mistakes, they're setting up the project for failure. "Fail fast" is a term commonly used in the technology industry, whose premise is not to waste too much time dwelling on failure, but rather acknowledging the failure and quickly correcting it.

Lack of Flexibility

When unexpected things come up (and they will), it's critical to the project's success that the team is able to adapt to changes and still meet deadlines. The scope of the project shouldn't be so rigid that one small change causes a rift in the entire venture.

Too Much Flexibility

On the flip side, too much flexibility can cause major setbacks and waste valuable time. It's essential that project managers carefully weigh the options - not changing things for the sake of change, but not being afraid to fix what's broken. This is where a strong project leader can be invaluable in keeping everyone moving in the right direction.

Inadequate Staffing

A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Team members should be selected based on their skillsets, not availability alone. Make the project appealing to the right people, and they'll want to be involved.

Initiating Too Many Projects

Multitasking will not save time or money. Instead, it will hurt the outcome of all projects involved and increase the odds of project failure. Enterprises shouldn't shortchange a project by adding another task to the mix.

Failure to Budget Accordingly

It can be tempting in the planning stage to underestimate the required budget. While a smaller budget may be appealing to executives, it will come back to bite a project manager at some point in the project's timeline. When the unexpected occurs, be sure that the budget allows some wiggle room.

Overseeing a successful project from start to finish is never easy, but these tips will stack the odds in one's favor.