As project managers, we’re on a constant search to gain every extra drop of productivity possible. We implement project management software, work according to new methodologies, and apply “best practices”, all so that we can save the client money and save ourselves some sanity.
And yet the industry is filled with pointless practices that, while they sound good, have no proven benefit (and in some cases, make things worse). Here are just a few:
Planning in a Vacuum
This is one trap that project managers constantly fall into. Yes, we’re the experts at putting a deliverable together. We know how to do it, how much it’s going to cost, and how long it’s going to take. But are we going to use it when it’s done?
Are we going to sell it when it’s done?
Going full steam ahead without properly consulting groups that might have a stake—the users, the sales and marketing team, etc—often results in a poor deliverable. Sure, it might be well built by our standards. But if the user can’t use it, and the seller can’t sell it, then what was the point of the project?
Note: The PMO isn’t the only one guilty of this. I’ve lost count of how many times sales over-promised something and put the PMO in a bind.
Top Heavy Teams
For some reason, large companies love to assign managers to everything. Sometimes it seems like the thinking is like “the more people watching over the project, the better it will run.” Never mind that there may not be enough responsibility to go around, so redundant teams sprout up and work gets mired in bureaucracy as managers try to defend their respective territories.
Speaking of bureaucracy, staff shuffling has got to be one of the worst examples of management meddling. Pulling people in and out of teams in mid-project is like trying to change a tire while you’re on a highway. A troubled project might benefit from more people, but then again it might slow things even more—especially in the software industry.
Also, making project managers compete for resources? Spout all the airy statements about “healthy competition” and “fluid planning” you want, but that’s just a fast way to make your teams hate each other. Guaranteed.
Most meetings waste time, and it’s a universally acknowledged fact. Yet people still have trouble letting go.
Note that I said “most”, not “all”. Meetings are a great way to get people together for the purpose of making decisions, but you have to manage the meeting carefully. Otherwise, it just becomes another time-waster.
Team Building Exercises
Cue eye rolling. Nearly every management-run team building I’ve attended (that wasn’t a company barbecue) was a ham-handed and theatrical attempt at getting us to “bond”. Team morale was actually lower during the event than at the workplace.
If you want tips on promoting good team relations, here’s a tip: Trust walks don’t create trust. Working effectively together? Does.
What other pointless project management practices have you encountered? Share them in the comments below!
Image credit, Flickr, Ohm17