“Organising a collaborative enterprise planned and designed to achieve an aim” – this is the job of a project manager, and it can be a real juggling act. If you manage projects regularly, you are certain to face some, if not all, of the following project management challenges.
Setting overly optimistic deadlines in order to keep clients happy is a serious mistake. You must allow for the inevitable fact that deadlines slip for one reason or another. The key is managing those changes effectively and knowing the exact status of your project at any one time.
Not knowing how you’re progressing against budget is unforgivable. It’s essential that you be able to provide up-to-date information and warn stakeholders of any impending risk of cost overrun.
3. Poorly defined goals
How can a project succeed if it doesn’t properly define what it’s setting out to achieve? As a project manager, you need to ask the right questions in order to establish a clear project plan and have the tools to follow progress against that plan.
4. Scope creep
This is one of the biggest project management challenges, but one that you will certainly come up against. It’s crucial to have effective project change and approval processes in place in order to deal with this particular evil.
5. Competing priorities
You may find yourself in competition with other projects or initiatives from time to time. You need to be able to demonstrate the potential impact on the delivery of your project in order for portfolio management or project sponsors to decide who gets priority.
Communication really is the most important part of a project manager’s job. You will have to engage everybody involved to make sure they’re all pulling in the same direction for your project to succeed. Regular, concise updates are the order of the day.
7. Geographically dispersed teams
This is increasingly becoming the norm in large organizations, so you need an efficient way of managing tasks over different geographies or time zones.
8. Multiple projects
It’s not always possible to set a limit on the number of projects you manage, so you need to be well-organized.
Over the course of large projects, requirements can change and sometimes it’s right and proper that tasks which were not originally in scope should become part of your project. Remember that your project plan isn’t set in stone, and be prepared to act on new information and suggestions.
10. Risk Management
Projects rarely go entirely to plan. Recognizing and planning for risk is an essential part of the project manager’s role.
Good software can help you minimize or overcome many of these project management challenges, automating many tasks for you and reducing the risk of things being missed. You will benefit from a complete view of how your project is progressing against budget and deadline, and be able to manage your project plans and changes with minimum administrative effort. It’s not a replacement for the human element of project management, but it can be a powerful tool for enhancing it.
Anthony Sherick helps project managers find their dream jobs through the website: www.projectmanagerjobs.co.uk. Find out more about working as a project manager and view the available vacancies online.
Image Credit, The 621st Contingency Response Wing, Flickr