Project management is a simple term for a complicated process. A project manager is responsible for overseeing the process and success of a company's endeavors. These can range from launching a new campaign, introducing a new service, rolling out a new product, and much more.
Project managers occupy a very involved role and should have their finger constantly on the pulse of the current project. It can be difficult to keep an eye on your team, a client's shifting demands, the market, and the project itself.
The risks posed by things like bad communication and poor planning can reap devastating consequences on your work. You can try to mitigate these problems with project management software, but you also need to go through the process of choosing which tool can serve you best.
This blog post seeks to provide an in-depth look at some of the most common issues faced in project management, as well as how to avoid or solve them to keep your work on track.
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No Set Goals
37% of projects fail due to a lack of defined goals. Having a clear end goal in mind will help you stay on track, and without one, it isn’t easy to understand the significance of your project progress and what success looks like.
You run into trouble when your company’s goals are unrealistic or too broad. How can your team effectively accomplish something they don’t fully grasp, or something that is out of reach due to bandwidth or schedule? In addition to setting primary goals, you should also set secondary or alternate goals in case you have to pivot mid-project.
To plan and manage your project, start by defining goals and scope, key stakeholders, schedule, and priorities. Deadlines will help measure your progress and keep your project teams aligned. Distilling major project goals into more digestible weekly or daily milestones helps your team make progress.
Creating a project plan before starting can prevent scope creep, budget issues or a lack of resources, and poor communication. To avoid this, using a project management tool allows you to centralize important documentation, update the status of a task and share it with your collaborators, and manage resources and tasks throughout the project. Gantt charts are an excellent way for teams to stay on schedule and avoid project failure.
Resource allocation issues are another common reason why projects fail or, at the least, stall successful completion. Issues with accessing the resources you need may be caused by time lost to mundane tasks, wasted resources due to poor planning, a delay in receiving new resources, reassessing what you actually need (e.g., software, equipment, or training), and continuous client input.
When you don’t have an effective project management platform with resource management and risk management tools built in — and no contingency plan — you may assign work to team members or vendors who don’t have the right skills to produce quality outputs. Or, they may not have enough time to complete their tasks, causing the project to miss its deadline and go over budget.
Agile project management software will help you plan, schedule, and distribute resources across a project lifecycle. It will also help you respond to shortages or delays, so you have a better chance of staying on schedule and within budget even if something goes wrong. 35% of project managers are still using Excel to build their resource plans, but Excel isn’t capable of helping you adjust or quickly activate your contingency plan.
Poor Budgeting in Project Management
If you struggle to adequately budget for your work, you aren’t alone — 50% of project managers have trouble managing costs. Cost misestimating or the lack of a clear budget will quickly complicate and derail your project. You can’t be reckless with your budgeting if you want a project to be profitable, and unfortunately, you also need to plan for unanticipated costs.
As a project manager, you probably feel pressure to do more with less money, but these constraints can compromise the quality of a project’s outcome and hurt your team’s morale along the way. Resource management and budget management are tools that you must leverage to estimate project costs properly.
Budget management tools let you break down a budget by every task, employee, and resource. Your project management dashboard displays how much you have left to spend as you execute various project stages. With a project management tool like BQE CORE, it’s easy to track your budget and compile this data into business reports, so you understand the relationship between how much you spend and how much you earn. It also lets you predict future budgets and profits, pushing your business to grow.
You’ve heard it before: Communication is key. Poor communication leads to lost time spent clarifying, conflict among your team or with clients, late service delivery, and missed project goals. Other issues that result from unclear communication include:
As the project leader, it’s up to you to clearly communicate who is responsible for each project stage and what comes next.
Keeping Tabs on your Project Management
Project management tools facilitate effective communication through features such as:
These collaboration features are vital to keeping project stakeholders up to date and engaged, so your company maintains unified team communication. PM software offers a single source of truth, meaning a centralized location for project updates and documents to make conversations and progress public and easily accessible.
When you have smooth and efficient communication, you can iterate on the spot and adapt with ease to any constraints that arise. Project management software can protect you from joining the 57% of projects that fail because of a communication breakdown.
Weak Team Members
Knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses and what they can accomplish during a given period enables you to plan and manage projects more productively. Depending on where someone’s falling short, they may require additional training, or you should implement more thorough onboarding for new hires.
When kicking off new work, communicate each person’s role and responsibilities for a project, then supervise the process to ensure every member is doing their part effectively. After all, your project is only as fast as your slowest worker. Since most tasks are dependent on the completion of another, when one employee falls short, it delays subsequent tasks and leads to bad collaboration and low morale.
Professional Support and Development
Resource management helps you plan projects more realistically and a project management platform allows you to understand employee utilization so you get the most out of your team while ensuring that no one is overtasked and experiencing burnout. As a project manager, you want to create a positive, productive work environment where employees feel comfortable speaking up if their skill set doesn’t match a task.
Beyond supervising your staff, you should also do your best to offer professional support and development so team members learn new skills and evolve in their careers. As long as someone is willing to learn and grow, you should attempt to minimize learning curves standing in their way and ensure they receive the training they need to meet their intended goal.
Poor Contingencies and Risk Management
What if one of your vendors goes bankrupt, or your entire team falls ill a few days before a project deadline? If you don’t have a contingency plan in place, your project may fail, and a business can never afford to fail. On average, 32% of clients will never repeat a company, even one they love, after a bad experience.
Preparing for worst-case scenarios lets you salvage a project even if everything goes wrong. If not, projects that can’t adapt are dead in the water, and even if you try, it’s a waste of your time and effort.
Risk Assessment and Adapting
We all want to be optimistic that work will unfold smoothly, but every project needs a contingency plan. To create yours, start by brainstorming and researching potential risks and setting alternate goals in case your original goal becomes unreachable. You can also consult team members to understand the potential problems they anticipate, adding another layer of protection to your project's success.
Project management software helps you plan for risks that may slow down your timeline. As your project progresses, a PM tool allows you to closely monitor each task, keep all collaborators on the same page, and avoid surprises. With risk management tooling built into a project management platform, you can spot potential problems as soon as they happen, plan how you’ll handle the consequences, and make future-proofed decisions about your business.
Project Management Tools and Software
Now that you’re clear on the most common challenges you may encounter while managing projects, consider testing out a project management tool to keep your company running accurately, predictably, and profitably. To find the perfect tool for you, start by identifying your needs. Do you need a tool that focuses solely on project planning and execution, or would you benefit from one that includes other business functions like expense reporting software?
Research your options by looking for tools that have worked for companies similar to yours. Select a tool that is accessible to everyone who’s going to be using it, and make sure it will integrate seamlessly with other tools you use. Once you’re comfortable with your PM platform, create a plan for onboarding users and make sure the provider you choose offers support in case you run into technical difficulties or want some advice on how to use the tool most effectively.
BQE Project Management Software Solutions
BQE’s highly rated project management platform, CORE, is the most effective way for project-centric companies to efficiently optimize their budgets, teams, and service quality. The benefits of this technology are proven — 77% of high-performing projects use project management software.
CORE includes powerful features built specifically for architectural, engineering, and professional services firms, including automatic billing software, time & expense tracking, analytics reporting, and much more.
Start your free trial today or explore our blog for more information on how to overcome project challenges and lead your firm to success.