Being a PM can be incredibly rewarding, highly varied and endlessly interesting, but can also cause a few headaches too. Here are some of the most frequently cited frustrations of experienced project managers that you should be prepared for If you have just started out in a career in project management and are still wearing those rose tinted glasses!
- Admin: The bane of every project manager’s life has to be the administration. In cases where they are running several projects at once, keeping on top of the paperwork can be highly demanding. Imagine keeping several timesheets for yourself, your team and any contractors you are using, as well as budgets, plans, risk logs, agendas, notes….
- Resources: In a busy company where project resources are shared, keeping track of your own resources and ensuring you are getting your allotted time from them can be a hard task. Sometimes this can mean a bit of negotiation with other project managers in order to get the people you need on your project when you need them.
- Virtual teams: With lots of freelancing, homeworking and subcontracting going on these days, chances are at least part of your team will not be based in your office. This can cause headaches when you are trying to schedule meetings across multiple time zones, or when you realise you cannot speak to a certain specialist except at 11pm when he is just getting into his office.
- Budgets: The problem with the budget is that the PM doesn’t ‘own’ it. They have the task of tracking, planning and reporting on the budget, but what is actually available is not under their control. This might mean there is less money available than the figure which was already included in the planning phase, or that the available budget changes during the course of the project.
- Systems and processes: Despite the move to social media and online project management tools, many businesses still fail to grasp the potential these types of systems present and insist on using out-dated processes. As a project manager, you are sometimes expected to use inefficient systems and processes, even if you know there is a more efficient or effective option.
- Team members: A project is nothing without the team members, but those human interactions and disputes that naturally occur among a group can be time consuming and highly frustrating for the PM who has to help smooth over the inter-personal issues.
- Dependency: One of the hardest things for a project manager to come to terms with is their complete dependence on other people to achieve their goals. No matter how much you would like to, you are not capable of delivering projects on your own, but it is your reputation at stake.
In general, project management is a very rewarding and exciting industry, but there is no avoiding the fact that handling frustrations such as these is a necessary part of the job.
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