Project management is a very challenging discipline. Even experienced project managers face a number of challenges. Fortunately, projects go much more smoothly and are more successful if you are aware of the most common mistakes and take appropriate steps to avoid them.
Here are some of the most common project management mistakes that marketers make. According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession report, project managers that make a concerted effort to avoid these mistakes have outcomes that are 28 times better than their peers.
Not setting clear and consistent goals
“The nitty gritty is what is going to make you or break you. [Projects] start out strong and start to break down as we get closer to the deadline.” —Jennifer Mansfield, Head of Customer Support, Qgiv
Every project has key stakeholders within an organization that set that project in motion, set budgets, create timelines and selected team leaders to execute the deliverables. During this process, it’s imperative that every last detail is discussed and assigned so that nothing falls through the cracks. Wireframe technology like MockFlow can be a great asset when outlining a project workflow. Traditionally these tools are used for web design but can be highly effective in visualizing complex projects.
Most teams now use the agile methodology so clear goals are set for each sprint.
For example, let’s say you are a marketing agency with a new social media community management client. An unclear goal would be something like “expand client’s brand reach as much as possible.”
This goal was so ambiguous that nobody understood how to proceed. Every marketing team needs to set goals that are:
- Relevant to the bottom line
- Easy to measure
A better goal to set for the agency team would be, “grow client’s following on Facebook and LinkedIn by 20% each month.” From this clear and consistent goal, specific tasks and team members can be assigned.
Failing to communicate slows down teams
“There has been one thing that consistently shows up on every project gone bad — poor communication. The other factors vary, but communication issues are always at the core of failed projects.” —Tom Atkins, Founder, Quarry House
Most marketers have specialized responsibilities with the teams that they serve. The downside of this is that many team members don’t understand the role their work plays in the organization as a whole.
This can create issues for other team members. Some workers may cut corners, because they don’t realize the problems it creates for their team members. They may also follow instructions, but not know how they can add value to other employees working on the next stage of the project.
Everybody will execute their responsibilities much more effectively if they understand how their work fits into the over project goals and have the ability to clearly communicate if there are ever any questions. Project management tools like Wrike give teams the ability to communicate around specific tasks to alleviate any potential bottlenecks while project managers have a clear overview of where each task is within an overall project.
One of my old colleagues worked for a boss that made it very clear that he didn’t like to hear negative news. All of his employees took this to mean one thing – they should lie to him and make him think everything was going well. Of course, they also worried that they would get sanctioned if their employees passed any negative news up the line of command, so they didn’t share information with each other either.
When communication breaks down like this, small problems quickly spiral out of control. Project managers need to foster an open line of communications between their team and with management.
Berating employees for raising concerns
It can be tempting to let your ego get in the way of your duties as a project manager. Don’t.
If there are any concerns, your employees need to be comfortable bringing them to your attention. This is one of the things that Google does much better than most other companies. They actively encourage employees to sharply criticize their products on internal message boards or company meetings.
Employees should be rewarded for having the candor to address these issues. They should be encouraged to provide feedback, so you can improve the process.
Are you facing these project management challenges?
Project managers face steep challenges every day. They have to often put out several fires at once, which can make the job seem overwhelming.
The good news is that the job will be much less stressful if you follow the right principles. You need to encourage clear communication and make sure all employees have a shared commitment to the team. This will ensure that the team meets its goals with minimal headaches.