Projects can fail for many reasons. And just as we mentioned in our last post, a frightening number of projects grossly exceed their budgets.
It’s no wonder the ‘project manager’ role ranks well above average in the area of stress when compared to most other corporate roles. While not as stressful as an executive position, it’s not far behind.
Tough budget calls often have to be made when managing projects. Rarely can you have it all, and sometimes going over budget simply isn’t an option.
Watch out for these 3 telltale signs of project doom:
1. Poor Planning
You can’t just ‘wing it’ when it comes to managing a project. Resources have their limits. You only have so much money, so many people, and so much time. Without a detailed plan of action, clear delegation of responsibilities, and timelines, you’re in trouble.
Solution: Be specific on the desired direction of the project. Define deliverables, milestones, timelines, and risk management plans. A project plan is your foundation; don’t take shortcuts. Ensure that your plan is moving smoothly by enabling a continuous flow of information between the various parties through reoccurring weekly huddles. And, make sure your plan always matches what’s in the statement of work. If it doesn’t match, either re-quote or reset expectations.
2. No Project Sponsorship
Simply put, if no one is driving the bus, it’s not going anywhere. You can huff and puff all you want, but without sponsorship (preferably at the executive level) and gatekeepers on both sides of the fence, you’ll find it hard to gain traction.
Solution: Projects are often chartered to implement something different or new. People don’t like change, which makes that job challenging. For this reason, you need a champion, both inside you company and inside the client’s company. Without backers, you’ll find it hard to progress. To help work flow smoothly, identify your project captains before you begin any project. You’ll find the process much easier when someone’s got your back.
3. Mismanaged Budget
Respect the budget. If your project follows the norm, it’ll probably go over by at least a little. Unforeseeable setbacks happen. Keep this in mind when allocating your budget.
Solution: Give yourself a 10% margin for error. You’ll be a hero if you come in under, and the pain in the wallet won’t be as severe if you go a little over. In addition, budget time as if it’s money. Every hour you go over affects the overall profitability of the job.
Keep your budget killers at bay by planning ahead, gaining project sponsorship before the projects begin, and leaving yourself a little margin for error (because, let’s face it, no one is perfect).
Next time, we’ll address how to avoid the pangs of inadequate resource planning, under delivering, and scope creep. Subscribe to be notified when part 2 posts!