project management
Colleagues working at desk in office

By Brooke Chaplan

In today’s world, project management is no longer the role of a few specially trained managers. Instead, more people are finding themselves thrust into the role of project manager and with technology making it easier for people to manage their own work (in addition to others’), create schedules, send status reports to clients and stakeholders, and manage budgets.

Whether you’re an “accidental manager” or are an expert manager, there are 5 common pitfalls you can easily fall into that can compromise your project and success.

1. Failing to Plan

If you don’t take time to properly plan, not outlining the project and deadlines, you may find your project is doomed from the start. However, in most cases, poor prioritization and insufficient planning can be spotted early on with these warning signs:

  • Lack of resources to complete the work
  • Too many change requests throughout the project’s duration
  • Difficulty aligning with stakeholders’ views and getting their approval
  • Missed milestones

Set yourself up for success by planning out the scope of the project from the beginning to the end before you start, or as soon as your project shows signs of falling apart. All stakeholders need to be in agreement with the plan, which should include a budget worksheet, attainable milestones, and deliverable dates for the entire period of the project.

Invest in taking some time to plan out your status updates, reports, and all communication expectations, as well as a plan for approval processes, with enough cushion time for the inevitable delays and interruptions to the project flow. In the end, you’ll be glad you did and by having a plan, you’re more able to deal with unexpected situations that may arise.

2. Doing Everything Manually

If you use excel or send out multiple emails to assign work (plus follow up emails), you’re doing far too much manual work than necessary. Make it easier on yourself and your team by investing in software solutions that can help you prioritize your time, keep everything together, and not waste resources.

When looking at a program, you’ll want one that is accessible to all contributors or project stakeholders, where you can see who is assigned each task, their deadlines, who needs to approve tasks, and the next plan of action once a task is completed. The program should allow everyone involved, from bottom to top, to login and view the status of every step in which they’re involved.

3. Not Using Tools That Are Connected

Did you know the average person has 13 different methods of controlling and managing time? From collaborative spreadsheets to email to intranet to cloud-based software programs, each with their own niche purpose, you could spend most your day trying to organize your time as you do on your project.

Manage your time better by choosing a work management system to consolidate your disconnected tools and replace them all together. There are many great options for a comprehensive, cloud-based software solution. Look for one that at least contains the capabilities of:

  • Project communication and collaboration
  • Visibility to all contributors and collaborators
  • Data storage
  • Proofing and Reviews
  • Scheduling and reminders
  • Data and reports
  • Historical project data

4. Not Allowing For Measurement and Project Correction

Waiting until a project is completed for a debriefing can lead individuals to disengage, argue or find themselves unable to objectively figure out what went wrong (or right), and what could have been changed.

Throughout the project, set specific goals and deadlines to ensure you’re still on track to hit the project goals. Track progress incrementally (not manually), to avoid stopping the project’s momentum and progress. By analyzing and reviewing the project’s progress, you can better anticipate problems and make adjustments as needed.

5. Staying In Old Thinking Patterns

If you’re stuck in the old ways of doing things manually, sending things via email, and struggling to adopt new project management systems, you’re missing out on streamlining the project and not keeping everyone involved.

Encourage all members of the project team to strive for unification and use the chosen project management solution. Provide company-wide training to help everyone adapt to the new system, requiring everyone to use it. If half your team is using the system and the other half isn’t, you’re missing out on the system’s full potential and are more likely to have your project fail.

In a world with various projects, deadlines, and schedules, to be successful in your project management, it is important to have tools available to help you and your team succeed. By acknowledging the common pitfalls and implementing strategies to avoid them through detailed planning, tracking, and practices, you’re bound to see a great success on all your future projects.

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer with Workfront. When she is not writing, Brooke is committed to learning more about helping businesses and marketing professionals succeed with their project management goals.