Professional service firms typically work on several ongoing projects at any given time. A solid project management strategy and dedicated project managers are absolutely crucial for the success of these firms. Given this importance, it's essential to be aware of common project management mistakes, especially when they're easy to avoid. Take a look at these four and learn how to keep your projects on track.
1. Lack of Communication
A project manager should possess excellent communication skills. Ideally, each project should begin with a meeting so the entire team can discuss objectives. This meeting is an opportunity to get to know the project manager and to go over their expectations for the team.
The project manager should break down the project into smaller tasks, assign these tasks and make sure each team member has a clear understanding of their role and priorities.
Communication should occur throughout the project so that the team and the client receive regular updates. Choose which communication channels will be used, and determine how often the manager will communicate with both the team and the client.
2. Using Sub-Par Project Management Software
Do you still use Excel sheets to manage projects? Project management software should give you visibility over your projects, help you organize and assign work, and show your progress. Make sure the software you use is adapted to your needs and that everyone on the team is comfortable with this tool.
3. Not Benchmarking or Measuring Financials
Establish a standard you can use to measure your progress throughout the project right from the start. Ideally, you should schedule weekly reviews to make sure you are on the right track and have a framework you can follow to make adjustments if you fall behind.
Project management solutions can get complex and provide you with more KPIs than you need. If your project management software has customizable dashboards and reports that can be easily tailored, that's a huge plus. That way, you can decide which project financials and other KPIs you are going to focus on, and then get the information you need in a straightforward manner.
Don't neglect the human aspect of tracking performances. Use a project management software with a time tracking feature to get an idea of how much work is going into the project and to assess how efficient team members are.
4. Not Managing Scope Creep
As a project is underway, you will find that you need to change some things or your client might request a few modifications. It is best to communicate with the client upfront about requests for change and how they will be handled.
You should establish a framework you can follow to make decisions regarding changes and how to prioritize them. You can't expect to work on a project without encountering scope creep. You can be prepared for this situation by budgeting your time and knowing how you will handle requests for change before they arise.
Strong management and product ownership are also important so you don't lose sight of the end goal when receiving requests for change.
If any of these mistakes sound familiar, make sure you correct them--quickly. Prioritize communication and make sure that you find the tools you need to simplify your project processes.