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12 common project management mistakes--and how to avoid them

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Sept. 27, 2012
So many projects, so much mismanagement. That's the refrain of many IT executives.

Solution: "It's good at various intervals to step back and take a fresh look at the overall project, review how things have gone so far, and how you can improve your future work based on what's already changed along the way," she explains. That doesn't mean you should or need to constantly make changes -- just be open to suggestions if they help the project.

Project Management Mistake No. 9: Not Having a System in Place for Approving and Tracking Changes. "Often, success or failure of a project hinges on the changes that occur after it begins," notes Christen Bergerud, Executive Vice President of EcoSys, a provider of planning and cost controls software. However, all too often, there is no system in place for approving and tracking changes.

Solution: "Having a clear process that must be followed is the best way to ensure the pertinent details -- how much it will cost, why it is necessary, the impact on the overall project -- are known before the change is approved. It's also extremely effective for auditing performance during and after project completion."

Project Management Mistake No. 10: Micromanaging Projects. "Don't babysit," admonishes Michael Beck, senior marketing specialist, OpticsPlanet, an online retailer selling a variety of optics-related products. "It's very common for budding project managers to treat their job like an enforcer, policing the project team for progress and updates."

Solution: "Instead of babysitting the project team, let it be known from the start [i.e., the kick-off meeting] that there will be regularly scheduled updates for the duration of the project. This lets your team know that status updates and progress are expected from them weekly and will encourage them to vocalize any issues or delays in advance."

Project Management Mistake No. 11: Expecting Software to Solve All Your Project Management Issues. "I've seen people throw software at problems all too often, and though projects become enumerated and more visible, the underlying process is still broken," explains Tim Yocum, director of technology operations, ServerCentral. "What you end up with in that case is a potentially costly piece of software only serving as a checklist of projects in motion without any thought given to advancing each project/milestone effectively."

Solution: Choose project management software wisely -- something all members of the team will be comfortable using. Then make sure to train users properly and set up a system for tracking projects. Above all, don't let human capital be "overshadowed by the allure of software solutions'!" he warns.

Project Management Mistake No. 12: Not Having a Metric for Defining Success.

Solution: "The very first thing a project manager should do is ensure [he] understands what the end users will consider a [successful completion to the] project," says Kevin White, director of client relations at Netage Solutions. "Understanding what will make a project successful...ensures that when the project is completed [all] parties walk away satisfied."

 

 

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