Managing a project is complicated and making mistakes that can compromise the progress of all activities is very simple.
One of the most delicate phases from this point of view is the project planning one, errors made in this phase are in fact the most serious and can negatively affect the achievement of the entire project.
The problem is that often you notice that something is wrong when it is too late and there is nothing more that can be done to limit the damage.
In this article we will explain what are the most common project planning mistakes and what strategies you can put in place to avoid them.
Commons management errors are grouped into 5 categories:
- planning errors
- errors in priorities management
- communication errors
- errors of responsibility
- errors of organization
Today we will help you identify those in the first group.
Planning a project is generally composed of two main phases. Both of these phases can face different critical issues:
Project analysis – phases and dependencies
When you start analyzing a new activity and you are about to schedule it, you need to keep in mind these 3 commons mistakes that could compromise the success of your business:
1) The scope of the project is too wide
Issue: Even if the goal of the project is clear, even described in detail with specs and agreed with the client, be focused only on the final goal, especially if the end date is long-term can lead to serious consequences. Managing big projects is very complicated, the variables involved are numerous and focusing on the final target can make you underestimate many small contingencies that make the project grow without control.
Solution: The best way to avoid having a wide scope is to brainstorm with your team until you are able to outline small goals that are easy to manage. This brainstorming is also very helpful to divide your project in phases. Sub-phases do not necessarily have to overlap perfectly with the sub-goals, they will be the guideline, the short-term fundamental steps you have to focus on to keep everything under control.
2) Micro management
Once goals have been identified both in the long term and, even better, in the medium and short term, it will be necessary to break down the project in phases with the help of what you identified above.
Issue: Regardless of the tool used to manage your project diagram, you don’t need to be too ambitious. Pay attention and do not fall into the opposite error of point 1: break your project down into too many activities, whose maintenance can become extremely burdensome.
Solution: When to stop? A phase, in particular if the root project lasts more than 6 months, should not last less than a week. This is not true in general and depends on a case-by-case basis but applies well most of the time. Under this value (activities that last just few hours) you can manage tasks with to-do lists, checklists, flexible than a Gantt chart. Using such tools will help your team work better, without needing your constant assistance, making them more involved.
3) The project does not follow a standard management methodology
Issue: For scheduling and manage your activities it is essential to use a tool that supports you in this work. If you do not use a software or, more generally, a planning methodology, the probability that the project become chaotic increases exponentially. Different projects, managed by different people, could be organized in diametrically opposed ways and can also use a completely different vocabulary that can disorient your resources.
Solution: Rely on a methodology, no matter what, as long as it is shared by your team. Initially it could be hard but over time, making it yours and modifying it to fit better with your needs, it will help you keep the team united under one method and one terminology. Use a software that embraces this methodology, a correct management of phases, of dependencies and schedules will reduce the delays and the misunderstandings drastically.
Analysis of timing and effort
Once diagram and phase dependencies have been created it is necessary to estimate effort and schedule them in time:
4) Too ambitious plans
Issue: A common planning mistake is to be too ambitious following exactly the expected time for the activities. When you face several phases, it is important to evaluate a certain margin of error that saves the project from numerous adjustments. Relying on the knowledge of your team is essential because they have a detailed knowledge of all the activities and possible risks.
Solution: Learn from your team and evaluate with them risks of each phase in order to give a realistic estimate. Relay on them not just on your experience.
5) Fail to plan due to customer pressure
Issue: It could happens that you fail to plan a project just because of customer’s pressure, who often have lots of requests, reduced budgets and no time at all. One of the most common mistakes is to give the customer the feeling that some activities are easy to implement or maybe free, errors made to acquire the project offering a convenient price.
Solution: Even if you want to offer a convenient price, talk about the project for what it is without discount in time of effort, this will help you avoiding misunderstanding with your customer. When you estimate a project, both in effort and in costs, do it without thinking about the agreed end date and the budget set. Once the realistic estimate is completed, match it with what the client expects and try to align the two versions. In this way you will immediately understand if the project is at risk of loss or at risk of delay without unpleasant surprises during its development. A correct assessment of reality and expectations avoids frustrations in the team and communication problems.
If you are a project manager you probably know that the list of mistakes you can make is much longer, but without a doubt these 5 issues are not only very common, but are also 5 of the most risky for achieving your goal.
As you see from the listed points we firmly believe that the use of a project management software, such as Twproject, could facilitate all of your work by avoiding many of the possible errors in planning a project.
A project management software will help you solve each of the 5 problems listed:
- You can associate to your project discussions and meetings that highlight all goals to help you in the drafting of the phases
- You will have a Gantt Editor that will help you create phases and dependencies and that will allow you to manage to-do list and checklist to avoid micro management
- It will help you embrace a methodology and help you to standardize the terminology throughout the team
- It will help you take advantage of your team’s knowledge for a realistic project estimate
- You will be able to manage plans during quotation phase and development phase, always having clear times and costs
If you want to start now to rely on a project management software to help you avoid all these errors try Twproject.