Project criticalities aren’t really missing and managing them is what a Project Manager should be able to do in complete control.
- Manage project criticalities: Break during project planning process
- Manage project criticalities: Scope Creep
- Manage project criticalities: Budget is exceeded
- Manage project criticalities: Missing or inefficient communication
- Manage project criticalities: Missing deadlines
- Manage project criticalities: Lack of responsibility
- Manage project criticalities: Decentralized information
Project managers need to be multitaskers and must be able to manage multiple single elements of a project at the same time, keeping everything under control.
However, even in the case of projects led by the most efficient managers, critical issues may occur during the planning and execution phases of the project. These problems are difficult to avoid, but often easy to solve.
To help you understand and give you an insight into what might be the most common issues to manage, in this article we will provide an overview of the 7 main challenges project managers may face.
Manage project criticalities: Break during project planning process
A skilled project manager knows that planning is one of the most important steps in the project management process.
However, sometimes project managers fail to spend adequate time at this stage and try to skip to solving the problem immediately. rather than planning and creating more effective strategies to avoid the issue, they prefer to solve it when it appears.
Instead, better planning means having more control over the project and more peace of mind when it comes to implementation.
So, please listen to the advice, it is important to never start a project before analyzing the problem, exploring possible solutions, finding the best one, and planning all the activities and resources needed to solve the problem.
Always keep in mind that some risks may affect the project in an important way and therefore find alternative solutions when they appear or you are certain that they will appear.
Clearly there is a difference in planning between longer-term and shorter-term projects: the former tend to require detailed planning, while the latter require a more pragmatic and agile approach.
Manage project criticalities: Scope Creep
It is very important to have a clear outline of the project before running it. However, even when a good planning process has already begun, the scope of the project may change during execution.
This change of scope, or scope creep, can be particularly threatening because it can result in the project deviating from deadlines and/or budget.
When this criticality occurs, in order to manage it, it is above all important to focus on the objectives and the real need to which the project must satisfy:
- Have the goals changed?
- Was it due to planning or execution?
- Is it really necessary to change the scope?
If the answer to these questions is yes, a meeting with all project stakeholders should be scheduled so that everyone can find the easiest and most convenient unanimous solution.
Taking the time to refocus your project, reallocate resources, create new activities, reprogram them and let everyone know what happened is essential in this situation.
All documentation must be updated so that everyone can work under the same conditions and be fully informed on every aspect.
Manage project criticalities: Budget is exceeded
The project has been planned, the necessary resources have been defined and, consequently, the final project budget established.
So, if all these steps have been followed correctly, why, despite such good planning, is the budget exceeded?
This could be due to three reasons:
- The planning process wasn’t as efficient as it seemed,
- There wasn’t an efficient monitoring and control process during the execution phase
- The project was influenced by external sources (environment, regulations, currency exchange, etc.) even unforeseen ones
When a project exceeds the budget, you need to find out what happened and try to reallocate the remaining resources so that you can continue to continue to maintain the same expenses.
A sound practice during project planning is to set a small “buffer” budget for exceptions, i.e., to have a reserve in case contingencies emerge that are beyond the project manager’s control.
Manage project criticalities: Missing or inefficient communication
A bad or missing communication plan results in unresolved conflicts, which could have a negative impact on the project.
A project is executed by a team of members, each of them responsible for specific tasks and deadlines.
If one member is not on track and the rest of the team or the project manager doesn’t realize this, the project will definitely be delayed. In the worst cases, larger problems will occur if the gap persists.
Having recurring meetings and records of these meetings sent to participants and stakeholders is a great idea to keep everyone on the same page.
Manage project criticalities: Missing deadlines
In a project, tasks depend on other sub-tasks and many of them cannot begin if a previous task has not yet been performed.
So, essentially, a missed deadline could lead to 1,000 other missed deadlines in a domino effect and, in the end, a late delivery of the final project result.
This is why time and deadline management is crucial in a project.
A good software with a clear Gantt and easily accessible is very helpful in this regard.
When delays occur, it is important to first analyze whether the expired activity is part of the critical path.
If not, you can check other activities within the critical path that can be carried out and reallocate resources so that you can keep the same end date.
Manage project criticalities: Lack of responsibility
Each task usually only needs one person in charge, i.e. a person who takes charge of the specific task and anything related to its completion.
A project manager must therefore clearly define the responsibilities and decision-making power of each team member and the expectations of stakeholders for that particular activity.
Manage project criticalities: Decentralized information
It is key to keep everyone up to date on the status of the project at all times.
Lack of accessible, available and reliable information can lead to project errors and delays.
Also, disorganized information, such as multiple versions of the time process, several document folders, many emails, can lead to decentralized information that creates confusion for all team members.
One solution to this problem is to use a project management software to help coordinate employees in multiple positions and, if applicable, in different time zones.
A project manager will build and develop effective project management skills with quality training and direct experience in the workplace.
Furthermore, the project team should not be passive but at best will proactively help the project manager to manage the various projects and their critical issues.