Project errors and pitfalls and how to avoid them


Some project errors are obvious but there are many that companies do not realise they are making and it is these errors that could jeopardise any chance a project has of success.

The big question is are you making any of these errors in your project?

Project plans lack sufficient detail

A project management plan is important but many project managers underestimate just how much detail a good plan really needs. When your plan doesn’t have enough detail, you run the risk of a project that is not efficient when it comes to scheduling tasks and runs the risk of running into problems linked to task dependencies. You may also end up with a team who are not as committed as they need to be because there is a lack of understanding when it comes to their responsibilities.

An organisational culture that isn’t project management ready

Individuals who are given special project assignments but not the appropriate training, tools or resources to execute them result in a highly unproductive project culture that can be damaging to your business. This can result in a waste of money as a result of projects that have failed and can ultimately result in a blemish on the reputation of the company.

You don’t embrace project management training

Continuous professional development  (CPD), professional training and PM qualifications are all important and all too often overlooked by companies. Not every project manager chooses to fill the role but rather they fall into it and when things go well the assumption is that training is not required. This simply isn’t the case, there are always new things to learn and having a project manager with the right training under their belt will improve morale in the project team, and ultimately will lead to better retention rates.

Running projects that don’t align with the strategic direction of the company

You need to think about whether the project you are working on is adding any value to the organisation that you are working for, all too often it isn’t, and this is a huge mistake that many project managers are guilty of. These are projects that do not support the enhancement, replacement or development of products, services or processes and they do not support organisational or departmental strategic plans either.

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Project pitfalls

Of course, project errors are one thing, and all too often you don’t realise you are making them. The other thing that project managers need to be aware of is the pitfalls that can come with any project. Whilst it is human to make mistakes, many of these can be avoided when project management methodology is followed properly, and whilst it is unlikely you will get everything right in a project all of the time, they can certainly help you to learn for future projects.

Here are some of the pitfalls you need to avoid.

Improperly managing project risk

The start of a project is often good, but once everyone really starts to get stuck into the work, it is all too easy for the project to meet some pitfalls. If you have not carried out a proper risk planning assessment, then there is a chance that you will not have the right strategies in place, and this could cause problems for your project.

Lack of detail in project plans

Project plans are essential, but if you are not including enough detail, then your plan may not be effective enough and could result in a loss of time during your project. It may also lead to a lack of commitment from your team. It is important that they understand precisely where they are on a plan in comparison to where they should be. This is easily rectified by spending plenty of time on the planning stages of your project.

Project scope that isn’t clear

One of the single biggest mistakes a project manager can make. If your project scope isn’t clear then you have the potential for scope creep. This means that over a period of time, the focus of your project can change. In order to avoid this, it can be a good idea to ensure that the whole team are involved in creating the scope for the project. The knowledge and experience that they have can assist in shaping the scope of the overall project.

You also need to look out for scope creep and make sure that you are avoiding it in your project.

Don’t show stress

If you are under pressure and stressed, then your team will feel it. It is understandable that the huge responsibility of the role can cause stress, but being vocal about it to your team is the worst thing to do as it can contribute to the destruction of team morale. Stress shouldn’t be ignored as this can lead to a situation that isn’t healthy, so look for ways to deal with it.

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Resistance to change

A project is something that is always changing, and if you are resistant to change, then you may encounter some problems. It is your job as the project manager to guide the project in the direction it needs to follow, and this means going with the changes. You might need to change your approach mid-project or add a new resource. You may even need to completely rethink the project. It isn’t always a case of doing what is right for you but rather what is right for the project sometimes.

Not delegating

As a project manager, it can be tempting to do too much of the project work yourself, but you need to learn to delegate. This will free up some of your time and give your team members more of a purpose. However, you need to leave your team members to the tasks you have delegated to them, don’t micromanage, as this can destroy motivation and confidence within the team.

Expecting software to do everything

Project management software is fantastic, and there are lots of options to suit a range of projects, but it cannot do everything for you in your project. With the right training and knowledge, you will be able to use it to help with significant parts of your project, and it can help you avoid some of the big project errors that come up all the time.

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