Mistakes and Reasons for Failures in Project Management

In many projects we encounter some Unfortunate Golden Rules. Some of them are listed below.


Unfortunate Golden Rules

At the start of the project each one who is involved is very eager to join and work on the project. There is an emotional attachment and every one is very enthusiastic and aggressive. Every one without detailed working starts giving new ideas, new plans to complete the project fast.

As the time progresses in the project and the practical issues starts cropping up, every one will give their targets with guarded optism. For an example if we know one activity can be completed in certain days or hours, we will add some safety margin and commit. Which means we are optimistic but remain cautious of any failure which may occur.
As the project crosses further stages, more people get involved, without any basis or schedule. If the project goes ahead, panic and confusion starts. There will be non sequential activities, missing of some activities, reworks, quality issues, safety issues, claims, counter claims and back charges , scope creeps, scope disputes and many more becomes part of the project. This creates unnecessary panic and confusion.

As always , then the search begins for finding out who is guilty. The time is wasted to find who is real culprit . Since there are no records, documentation or basis, the innocent gets punished. The firefighting begins and somehow the project gets completed.
Finally, some one , who was non participant in the process, comes up with his presentation showing that due to him, the project was completed. He gets recognized and rewarded for project completion.

Common Mistakes in Project Management

1. Having Plan in Head

We always consider ourselves as brilliant and very powerful. Most of the times, the project plans and schedules are not made and remain in our minds. There are multiple minds who work on the projects. Confusion starts from there. Also, it is impossible to keep and track everything in one’s head. This also creates unnecessary stress. If someone is responsible for multiple projects , this will also lead to confusion among the projects. The plans have to be written, monitored and tracked. Anything which is not written is difficult to monitor and track. When it comes to present the plans, projects status to stakeholders, it becomes very difficult as everything is in head and not documented. This is one of the biggest mistake in managing projects. Hence it is important to have written plans right from the day zero of the projects.

2. Saying “May Be” or “I will Try”

It is important to follow certain discipline while managing projects. There is no place of vague or subjective words in project management. Everything which gets communicated is to have back up and should not be left to any one’s gut feeling. Many times when a sponsor, client or any stakeholder ask a project manager to expedite certain works, the reply from project manager is “I will try”. This should not be reply from project manager. Project Manager should look at the schedule, see possibility and feasibility of expediting and then say either “Yes” or “No”. When he/she says “I will try” it virtually becomes a commitment. When it becomes a commitment, unnecessary pressures are created to achieve that target. This may lead to having impact on cost and quality. Saying “I will try” is another common mistake which is made during project execution.

3. Answering Killer Question ” What Best You can Do?”

Many times the question is asked “What best can be done”? Generally, in aggression the date and cost is committed which is not possible to achieve. The blame game starts later when the target is not achieved. It is important to look at he plans and commit any date. In certain situations when the plan is not in front of us, we can always give a range in terms of time and cost and not the exact date.

4. Not Involving Teams

Project success is achieved by a team work. No one person can be held responsible for success or failure of a project. It is therefor extremely important to involve the team during the project. It is important to communicate the details, plans, urgency to the team and take the team in confidence for achieving targets. The feedback from teams must be taken while taking any decision. Most of the time the new ideas are generated while brainstorming with the teams. which can help the project. Team commitment is the most important for the success of the project.

5. Tasks vs Bar Chart

While making plans or preparing schedule, most of the time the activities are listed and dates are put beside the activities. The PERT chart activity is important activity and one must understand the basics and importance of it. Merely depending on the software is not correct for preparation of schedule. Correct linking and dependencies must be done with all activities with predecessor and successor activities well defined. The critical path should be known from the schedule. There should not be any guess work while preparation of schedule. You can see above illustration of simple plan for marriage. In one of the survey it is found that many projects lack of plans in project. The findings are given below on how the projects are planned and monitored.

6.Not Planning on all Projects

When any organization undertakes multiple project, the project planning and monitoring is done on some project while it is not done on other project. This creates imbalance in the organization. The allocation of resources become critical issue. The above pictorial presentation can give clear idea. The overall control is lost. You can see the status of 6 different projects when tracked on a particular day. Project A and C seems to be planned , But the status of project B & D is not good. The project B is behind schedule and project D should have been started , but not yet started.

7. Stories vs Plan

This is a common mistake which is made of telling stories when asked for any progress status. The stories are created as there are no plans made and nothing is tracked. This is always misleading and exact details are never given. Generally, this is done to hide the facts and create confusion which is not in the interest of project success.

8.Thinking Underspent is OK

It is myth that if the reports show the underspend at any point of the project time lines, it is considered good. It is important to note that this is misleading. It is important to link the costs vs actual progress. As shown in above figure, it may be true that actual cost spent is less than planned cost, but the actual progress too delayed as compared to planned progress. This indicates that the project is behind the schedule and it will impact the final completion of the project. The delay in actual completion can lead to severe losses in future.

9. Re Scheduling too late

It is important to monitor the project at regular intervals and take actions as appropriate. Decision of rescheduling project at last moment is not appropriate. It shows lack of monitoring and control on the project.

10.Not reviewing

Not reviewing project can impact severely on the outcome of the project. Generally, the reasons given are mentioned above. It is extremely important to share at least one page report at the end of project. The report must have answers to the points like “What went right?”,” what went wrong?”, “what could have been better?”.

Why Mistakes in Project Management

Lack of understanding and training among project team members. The planning team must know and understand the details of project. The activities, the time taken, resources, hindrances, sequencing, dependencies must be clearly understood. The basics and fundamentals must be known. Many times we depend on software’s which are just tool. The understanding and providing correct inputs will give correct output from software’s.

As explained in the start of this brief, the projects teams are enthusiastic and take it easy at the start of the project. The enough time is not spent on time and wait for real execution to start. This “take it easy” attitude at the start impacts very badly on the project success. “Planning take time” or “its waste of time” is a myth. If the correct plans are made , tracked, monitored lot of unnecessary pressure can be minimized.
Last and important reason is not having clear leader on the project. He should be responsible and accountable. Hence, He should be authorized to take decisions in the interest of the project. Clear and right leader is an important aspect of project manager. Leader who gives correct direction, communicates the vision of the project to the teams, involves and motivate team is required on the project.


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