By Michelle Symonds
Some mistakes can be avoided if you plan properly and in advance. Inexperienced project managers can sometimes make mistakes, simply because they do not recognize them as mistakes due to a lack of experience. Here we will look at five mistakes that you really do not want to be guilty of.
1. Omission of milestones
These are important because they provide you with short term goals and targets and a quantifiable measure of progress that you can you show to your investors and managers in the form of progress reports. They also provide your project with structure, and prevent creation of a long list of tasks that seemingly lacks cohesion.
2. Disregarding your risk log
Your risk log is an important document, and it should be worked at from the outset. The trouble is, many project managers make the mistake of putting a risk log in place at the start and then file it away in a drawer until the completion of the project. New risks, ones that are not included in the log, are sure to come along during the course of the project. Other risks come to nothing, and yet some become an altogether different problem. Risk logs need to be updated as the project progresses, as a written record of risks that are being actively managed.
3. Failing to communicate
In the beginning the intention to put in place a robust communication strategy is always on the PM’s mind, but unless you work at it on a day to day basis, communication can easily start to break down. From investors to local authorities, there are people that require to be kept ‘in the loop’. Put in a little time, even if it is just an hour or so each week, to communicate with people and keep everybody up to date.
4. Losing sight of the bigger picture
Bigger programs are comprised of several projects, and each project complements each other in some way so that they fit together as a part of the larger whole, a bit like jigsaw pieces. Losing sight of that fact, focusing too much on your own project, can have a detrimental effect on the program. You should be sending your program manager progress reports every now and again, as well as scheduling meetings with them to discuss progress and objectives.
5. Not updating your calendar
Your project management software, whatever you have chosen to use, will no doubt tell you about any upcoming religious or bank holidays. But will it tell you about somebodies upcoming hospital appointment, or your developer’s maternity leave? Will it remind you that no work can be carried out a week on Friday because the electricians are booked in to rewire the offices? Your calendar is your friend, keep it updated. Always.
There are plenty of other mistakes, just waiting to be made – or avoided. Keep your eyes open and keep these five major mistakes in mind whatever project you are working on. Don’t forget that being a project manager is a constant learning exercise; gaining experience and improving your PM skills to be able to take on bigger and more complex challenges and grow your career as a project manager. So don’t neglect to undertake any relevant project management courses to keep your skills fresh and up to date.
Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.
There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.