Biggest project management hiccups in the limelight

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They say that the best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. And that applies also to the project managers. We can tell what you’re thinking. They know everything in detail about the projects and there is nothing they can miss when everything is already set on their table.

But instead of repeating endlessly what they should keep an eye on, we think that now it’s the right time to put the mistakes they should constantly stay away from in the limelight.

The biggest mistakes project managers tend to make:

  • Missing a clear idea of what the project is about

  • Not having an analysis of the project 

  • Not setting clear frames in terms of timeline and money

  • The lack of support tools 

  • Not delivering the bad news

  • Not having the milestones and regular calls set up 

Missing a clear idea of what the project is about

You may think that is impossible for a project manager not to know what the project is about. Despite our common idea, sometimes it happens and that is a critical mistake one can make. He doesn’t need to know how every single thing is done and get into the labyrinth of the small procedures. 

We strongly believe, however, that at least in the IT sector, a project manager needs to have some technical background. It’s vital for the project that he understands the processes and knows about the technologies that are used. Having the right amount of knowledge will help him be a partner for the client, in a way that he will be able to give advice and suggest ideas that can improve the project overall. 

Missing a (complete) analysis of the project 

Before the start of every single project, we need to have a complete analysis that can help us figure out which are the risks we are going to take. Firstly, you don’t want to lose everyone's time with a project that doesn’t need the involvement of the whole team, so you need to make sure that the right number of people is allocated to the right amount of work and everyone's value is maximised. 

The second important thing is a rather very common situation we must avoid, where the client has a different team that creates the back end for the application. We know that it happens quite often that the front end development is quite faster than the bacon development. This mismatch leads to a situation when the front end is benched again and has to wait for the other team so they can finish their work so they can continue. To avoid this and reach perfect synchrony, you should have a complete analysis that can get your solutions prepared in advance. 

Not having clear frames in terms of timeline and budget

Keeping the budget and the timeline in the expected boundaries is crucial and every project manager should have them on his mind. When we talk about the money, one thing is clear: without knowing the budget, it is impossible to make reports about ongoing work, plan and forecast what you have to get ready next. 

On the other hand, the timeline is not something that can be ignored either. Deadlines and parameters we need to meet as project managers are barriers we can not go over and still if we do, we need to constantly communicate with our clients with honesty and tell them about our progress on the project. 

Better let them know we can not deliver our work on time because it happens to all of us once in a while and can be easily understood if it is not a habit. While doing so, we can keep the confidence level up, manage the risk and minimize any impact on the project. 

Lacking support tools like JIRA or CONFLUENCE

To be more specific, we are speaking about two main products from Atlassian: JIRA and Confluence. You can consider, anyway, any other tool you may use on the project that helps you have the setup of your project ready. Before you start working on the project with the developers, as a project manager, you must have everything ready.

The developers should focus only on programming. For the best, you should also know what should be done in advance, in the next two or three sprints. Setting up the project with these tools will make you able to: blend the work with the client, clarify the tasks, plan the next sprints and organize regular meetings with the developers.

Not informing the client about both good and bad news

Picturing just the good side of the story usually comes from a big amount of discomfort that we feel when we need to inform someone about bad news. We know it would be easier to pretend bad things never happen, but in project management, the delivery of bad news is strongly connected with the key trust-winning skills. It helps you to show the client that you are trustable and that he can rely on you. 

There is no project without any bad news, so if you are straightforward with your client and you come also with possible solutions, he will understand and even appreciate that you identified a problem and already intend to minimize its impact. 

The act of delivering bad news doesn’t require acting or any rhetorical skill. It should be done in a neutral tone because the plain facts will usually speak for themselves. 

This comes together with a definite need of having meeting minutes from any call you have with the client. It is important for both sides and it has the role of preserving all the conversations, in case someone forgets or even denies something from the call. 

Not having the milestones and regular calls set up 

Last but not least, the mistake from our list is not having a milestone set up. The expectations of the client are way too big if he doesn’t know what and when he is gonna receive, so you would better take care of keeping them at a constant level. You can do this by setting up regular calls with the client, where you can inform him about the progress or clarify some loose ends. 

This works well when it comes to short-term goals, but if you have a long-term project, it is recommended to arrange a timeline that can be constantly updated. 

 

Many tasks come together with many responsibilities. We know that sometimes, as a project manager, it’s hard to find time to focus on what you should also improve on your tasks. This is why we think it’s easier to constantly keep on your mind, for this time, the things you should stay away from. Then, with everything else planned and organized, you can just meet the expectations of the client in the middle!

David Jareš Senior project manager

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