10 Common Project Management Mistakes That You Should Avoid

6 Jul, 2022 | Read in 5 minutes

Project Management Mistakes: 1. Assigning the wrong person • 2. Unclear objectives • 3. Ineffective communication • 4. Ambiguous scope • 5. Too many projects • 6. Unrealistic timeline • 7. Micromanaging • 8. Not using tools • 9. No tracking • 10. inflexible


In 2008, an IBM  study resulted in only 40% of projects meeting the schedule, budget and quality. According to KeyedIN, 50% of all Project Management Offices (PMOs) close in just three years. The Portland Business Journal found that most analyses concluded that 65% to 80% of IT projects failed to meet their goals, were not on time and cost larger budgets.

Managing a project is not an easy task to do. It takes competence, courage, and great responsibility. Sometimes projects can fail due to various errors, not just the project manager. The team also has a big hand in a project.

From the statistics above, several project failures occurred because they were not on target, over budget and did not meet deadlines. How could this happen?  There are several common mistakes made when setting up a project. Let's cover what's on the list.

1. Assigning the wrong person to manage the project

A project manager (PM) is like a king/queen in chess. The one with the critical role in whether the project can run smoothly or vice versa. Its role is quite dominant, making companies have to be selective when determining a PM.

When a company hires the wrong PM, the project seems to be on the brink. The need for hiring a competent PM should be a high consideration for every company that runs project management. Companies should take the time to select a PM who fits the role required. Choose a candidate who can be trusted and have PM competencies.

2. Unclear objectives and success metrics

A high-rise building will not stand firm if the foundation is weak. The structure will be fragile and easily collapse. Building construction requires a solid foundation, like a project. Some projects fail due to unclear goals and objectives. Excellent planning and proper risk management are meaningless when no clear goals exist.

Then how to set a clear goal?

  • Discuss the objectives with stakeholders and the team to understand the project's direction.
  • Use the DUMB or SMART so that goals and objectives are clear.

3. Ineffective communication with team and stakeholders

Source: Freepik.com

The Ordinary Leader said, “it's always better to over-communicate than under-communicate in project management.” Communication plays a vital role in project management. It won't be nice for the ongoing project without excellent and effective communication between the stakeholder and the PM or the team and the PM.

Everyone has a different communication style. The PM, stakeholders and the team must adjust to each other. Discuss together and agree on communication style. Implement it in every meeting, collaboration or daily life.

4. Ambiguous scope

"The scope constraint refers to not only what the projects include, but also what is excluded" - Bolick.

Before starting the project, the PM and his team must evaluate the scope thoroughly. Evaluation helps set expectations as well as final results in projects. Start with the PM making a statement about the project scope that contains several things, such as:

  • Project boundaries
  • Expected needs of the project
  • Constraints faced by the team
  • List of assumptions about decisions that are beyond the project's control
  • Identify affected business processes
  • Identify external or internal entities that interact with the team

Discuss the project's scope with stakeholders, so they understand the project area's specifics.

5. Working on too many projects simultaneously

Being productive is not oriented to using time as a whole but effectively. This also applies to project management. Working on many projects at one time will only lower the quality of the results. In addition, the focus will also shift between many things at one time.

Therefore, it is crucial to set priorities. The PM and his team must discuss the main objective of the project. All team members will need to dedicate more time to the main objective.

6. Unrealistic timeline

Source: Freepik.com

Creating a timeline cannot be decided unilaterally by the PM. Team members and stakeholders should be involved in creating the timeline. The involvement of each entity will avoid the cause of project failure in the form of an unrealistic timeline. Team members who don't get tired and stay motivated until the end of the project will improve the result.

To get the best result, project managers can utilise time management tools to maximise the process. Those tools usually allow you to add details and specific flow of the project. It makes it easy for the team to read.

7. Micromanaging

A good leader trusts his team members and gives them the freedom to make their own choices. That's what the PM needs to do. Team micromanaging won't improve the team, and it's quite the opposite. They may lose faith in the PM when their way of working is too regulated.

Do check in periodically to see the progress of the project. Give team members the space to choose their work style. Creating a positive environment in the project will give a good impact on the team members.

8. Not using project management software

The existence of current technology will facilitate the project work process. Use tools that help project management be more effective and run smoothly.

The primary purpose of project management tools is to help PMs plan, implement, monitor and control the entire project. But indirectly, the tools will also help improve resource efficiency and tracking progress if appropriately used.

Choosing tools that are easy to use can benefit the team. Team members will feel motivated and understand the project deeper. Tools that have simple UI/UX and powerful features will ease the work.

9. Not tracking changes

Source: Freepik.com

A project will have changes in its implementation. Changes that occur can be small or large. To avoid project failure, PMs must have a proper system to track changes. Also, define the approval process for the changes.

This tracking process will help when errors occur and simplify the performance audit process. Get the team to understand the process of tracking changes as they happen to a project, so they too will be aware when the project is off track.

10. Lack of flexibility in project management

Before starting a project, a PM will have to determine the project management method. But not all methodologies offer flexibility. However, a project needs to have some flexibility. Take a step back to see the error to maximise the results.

Or a PM can review previous projects that have been successfully finished to plan for future projects. Plan not only to run the project but also to prepare when facing project issues.

In Summary

Sometimes project plans don't function correctly. Flexibility and adaptability are needed to keep the project running well. However, continuous changes are sometimes necessary to do. What is required is to be open to the possibility of such changes.

Some things don't go the way you want them to. There needs to be a process of understanding, better communicating and acknowledging mistakes. Mistakes happen so that everyone learns to be better in the future. It's like managing projects, and project management is not always perfect. That is why every project management requires the cooperation of various parties.

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