Three Mistakes Commonly Made in Project Management

So your specifications are finalized, your service providers have been engaged and you are ready to launch headlong into carrying out your project. Here are three mistakes you could make along the way… and how to avoid them!

Mis-identifying the project’s need

“The project manager is asked to plan and carry out a project, but too often there is not enough time to question the substance of the problem,” explains Alejandro Romero-Torres, professor at UQAM’s Department of Management and Technology. “Every project meets a need and it is important to have a good understanding of what that need is,” he continues. “If it is poorly identified, the initial benefit of the project in the organization will not be met.”

From the beginning of the project it is therefore necessary to identify the need and stay on course. Every time the manager has to make a decision (adding a new functionality to an application, for example), he must ask himself, “Will these new characteristics be beneficial to the organization?”

Lack of clear goals with respect of stakeholders

When information is passed on it is generally to get a reaction from your counterpart. We expect the message to be followed by an action. “When managers are questioned about the significance of sending a report to a stakeholder, for example, the purpose often lacks clarity,” says Alejandro Romero-Torres. “I send information because I have to be able to check if I have achieved my goal or not. It is important for managers to clarify their actions.”

Not all managers develop their communication skills adequately, because they remain siloed in the technical aspects of their project. These skills can be learned through coaching or mentoring.

Neglecting lessons learned

By definition, managing a project consists of innovating, making good moves and making mistakes. However, the tendency within organizations is to neglect lessons learned, for lack of time or interest. “Making mistakes is not bad in itself,” says the professor. “The problem is that the manager risks repeating the same mistakes. He would think differently if he had access to those lessons.”

Some people have understood this challenge. “There is a trend among companies that do project management,” explains Mr. Romero-Torres. “Not only do they share lessons learned within the organization, but they will ask their employees to participate in seminars or communities of practice outside the organization.”

Managers, don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Humbly share your mistakes with your teammates, which is also an innovation!

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