Project management is never a plug and play operation. Even with a team of superstars, you still need to do some serious project monitoring in order to execute properly. However, few PM’s realize that project monitoring is just as much a skill as crafting a scope or managing resources.
Mistakes will happen, of course. But by listing down the most common mistakes people make when monitoring a project, I hope to help you avoid them. I’m talking about mistakes like:
This is the most dangerous mistake people make, just because it’s so hard to defend against. It’s a combination of laziness, overconfidence, and complacency that combines into a recipe for disaster. It tricks you into filling in the blanks when you’re missing information. It fools you into relaxing your standards because a procedure or tool has always worked before. Except this time it didn’t.
As a responsible project manager, you should check , confirm, and test everything; even things that have always been okay before. You never know—the one time you don’t check may be the one time everything goes to hell.
Letting Go After Delegating
Delegating properly is a valuable project management tactic, and it goes a long way to helping you keep up with your workload. But simply handing it off and letting go is asking for trouble. What if your delegate is having problems? If you don’t check in with them now and then, they may be costing you the project without you realizing it.
When you delegate to someone, always ask for regular updates. That way, if there are any problems, you can quickly jump in and assist. Just remember that there’s a difference between asking for updates and nagging/micromanaging.
Relying on the System
Yes, project management systems are pretty cool. They have automated metrics, graphs, and alerts that help keep a project manager updated on how the project is doing. But like any other computer program, the system will only look for what you tell it to look for. If you don’t set it up properly, you could be missing out on important warning signs without even knowing it.
Also, you risk missing the “soft” data. Are people having trouble with your process? The project management system may not reflect that. Does one of your employees have health problems? The system can’t show you that, either. As good as a project management tool is, it can’t completely capture the human factors in your project monitoring equation.
Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees
Project management tools give you a lot of numbers to work with—and like I just said, the volume of information can be misleading. It’s far too easy to focus on the raw numbers and details, like hours worked, bugs caught, and tasks accomplished. Yes, these are important things to note, but don’t forget that it’s part of a larger picture.
Watch for trends in your data that may be related to something else. Are there more bugs being reported? It might be related to the fact that your team is logging more hours. No one piece of data exists independent of everything else. It’s all related, and your job is to see how.
Image credit, Flickr, Rafael Anderson Gonzales