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Avoid These Roadblocks to Seamless Project Management

November 2, 2021 / by Frederid Palacios

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Project management is a constant balancing act and is a challenging job for even the most experienced managers. Project managers must manage an entire team on a project, ensuring that all constraints such as time, project scope, and budget are followed. Even with a plethora of highly instrumental resources, countless challenges could arise. For this reason, it is crucial that managers are aware of prevalent project management roadblocks so that they can be avoided and prevented. 

Lack of Communication

One of the most crucial aspects of project management is cultivating a clear channel of communication. Whether communicating between managers, team members, vendors, or suppliers, clear and consistent communication is vital to the success of a project. 

Communication in a project helps to ensure that all team members are cohesively working towards the same goal. Should an error or delay occur, miscommunication or failure to communicate could drastically worsen a problem, costing more time and money. Furthermore, miscommunication can cause conflict amongst team members, further compromising the success of the project. 

As a project manager, it is your responsibility to ensure communication within a project, which can be done in three steps. Through planning, managing, and monitoring your project and team members, you can help cultivate communication and ensure that tasks are completed as expected. It is also crucial to explicitly communicate goals and objectives with team members, in addition to quantifiable success criteria to help you assess progress and performance. 

Scope Creep

In project management, scope creep refers to the changes and growth in a project’s scope after the project begins. This phenomenon most often occurs when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled, resulting in complications down the line. Often, scope creep results from clients not knowing precisely what they want or having vague requirements. This can be extremely disrupting to a project, forcing project managers to either disappoint clients or drastically readjust the project. 

To combat scope creep, it is essential that project managers clearly communicate and manage client expectations throughout the duration of the project. This can be done by proactively engaging with clients during the project planning phase. Defining specific project requirements such as budget, scope, and a timeline can help managers allocate resources and project capacity accordingly and keep the project running as expected. While it can be challenging to say no to a client, avoiding ad-hoc change requests is vital in preventing delays and scope creep. 

Missing Deadlines 

Speaking of changes, the more changes made during project execution, the less likely a project is to be completed by its predetermined deadline. In fact, almost 70% of projects face delays, which is the case for a variety of reasons. 

One of the most common reasons for a missed project deadline is that an unrealistic deadline was set. Having a near-impossible deadline often results in a missed deadline and drastically compromises the quality of a project if it is rushed. Another significant contributor to a missed deadline is changing priorities. As priorities change, project managers must readjust their project timeline, often stopping current tasks to start new ones. As this significantly disrupts project operations, it typically harms a project’s deadline. 

The most helpful method of ensuring that deadlines are met is by setting realistic deadlines. This is where an experienced project manager is crucial, as it takes experience to understand how long a project will take while considering potential delays. Furthermore, taking input from all stakeholders can help managers to make a realistic timeline. While it can be tempting to rush a project to please a client, it is more important to consider the time it will take to reasonably complete a high-quality project. 


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Sticking to Budget

Hand-in-hand with meeting deadlines is sticking to a predetermined project budget. The longer a project takes to complete, especially if a deadline is missed, the more that it will exceed its budget. Most managers consider financial issues to be one of the most significant roadblocks in project management. A study states that one in every six projects costs more than 200% of the estimated amount. 

Any disruption, error, or delay faced during the project execution will likely have a negative impact on the project’s budget. For this reason, efficiency is the best way to maintain a strict budget. Proper budgeting procedures and realistic assumptions can help managers accurately plan for their project budget and stick to it. Factors such as deadlines and project scope can dramatically impact the budget, so it is essential to stick to the project plan in order to follow a budget. 

Lack of Proper Skills

On a more micro level, another common obstacle that project managers face is the inadequate skills of team members. While all team members were hired for a reason and have their strong suits, a team can only be as strong as its weakest link - so it is crucial to determine where your weaknesses lie. As a manager, even the most straightforward projects will not be completed successfully if your team lacks the proper skills. 

As a project manager, there is no way to supply every team member with each needed skill. But, you can determine the skills and competencies required for the project at hand and assess your available workforce accordingly. Such an assessment will help managers determine if additional team members and skill sets are needed and can be added to the project team. 

Additionally, solid communication between team members can help combat this challenge. If a team member lacks the skills to complete a particular task, it is much preferred that they stop and ask for help rather than attempt it on their own and possibly make a mistake. If your team has trust and communication skills, they can help one another fill in any skill gaps within a project team. 

Proactivity is Crucial in Project Management

With any project, countless things could go wrong. Any given project consists of numerous team members, simultaneous tasks, and strict deadlines and budgets. Juggling these factors is a job of its own, but managers must also proactively avoid common project management roadblocks. 

The best possible solution to any project management challenge is to behave proactively rather than reactively. With experience and knowledge of the project, project managers should make a clear and concise project plan and follow it closely throughout the project execution phase. But, while this is ideal, unexpected problems may still arise. 

Sticking to a clear project plan can tremendously reduce the risk of common project management pitfalls, but key leadership actions can help resolve problems quickly. By cultivating a clear communication channel within your project team, project managers can explicitly define expectations regarding skills, deadlines, budgets, and more. As a result, all project stakeholders will have the same understanding of project objectives and work together to achieve seamless project completion. 

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Tags: Project Management

Frederid Palacios

Written by Frederid Palacios

Fred Palacios is a seasoned software architect with more than 20 years of experience participating in the entire software development cycle across a host of different industries--from automotive and services to petroleum, financial, and supply chain. In that time, his experience working closely with high-level stakeholders has provided him with a strategic vision for developing the right solutions to flexibly meet critical business needs. As CTO of Intertec, he's continuing to focus on the creation of business-critical applications for large enterprise projects, particularly those that handle high concurrency and large datasets. He is passionate about using technology as a tool to solve real-world problems and also mentoring technical teams to achieve their maximum potential and deliver quality software.

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