Project management refers to the process of planning and organizing resources to lead a team of workers toward the successful completion of a project. Project management is key to adhering to project constraints such as budget, quality, scope and schedule. It lends focus and direction to employees and helps address roadblocks in the path to successful project completion. 

However, project management is no mean task. The challenges faced during project implementation can significantly mar the quality of a project, cause employees to lose motivation and result in the organization’s failure to meet its business objectives. Let’s dive into the most common project management challenges and look at ways to overcome them.

  1. Common Project Management Challenges

  2. How To Overcome Challenges In Project Management

  3. Excel At Project Management

Common Project Management Challenges

Project managers need to deploy their skills, knowledge and experience to see a project through from the beginning to the end while meeting set goals. It’s their responsibility to build a cohesive team, delegate tasks effectively and monitor progress. But all of this is easier said than done. Let’s go through some of the most common project management challenges organizations go through:

  1. Absence Of Well-Defined Goals

    The absence of clear goals and objectives is one of the most common project management problems. Research shows almost 39% of projects fail in the absence of a well-defined project plan and goals. Goals help steer a project in the right direction while acting as a roadmap for employees to keep them invested in their work. Without clearly outlined goals, employees don’t have set criteria to guide them forward and, consequently, their productivity falls.

  2. Impractical Project Deadlines

    Impractical deadlines are among the most common challenges faced during project implementation. While it’s good to aim high, project managers must not set expectations and deadlines that are impossible to meet for their employees. Because when employees are rushing to live up to absurd expectations, they may compromise on the quality of their work. Stressed employees are also less productive and prone to experiencing burnout.

  3. Ineffective Communication

    Among the other prominent project management problems is lack of communication. The Project Management Institute (PMI) conducted a study that highlights ineffective communication as the primary contributor to project failure one-third of the time. Miscommunication can not only lead to confusion and loss of productivity but also cause conflict among team members. All of this leads to missed deadlines, unfinished tasks and unhappy employees and stakeholders.

  4. Scope Creep

    Scope creep is another of the most common project management problems. Scope creep refers to changes in the scope of a project as it moves through its lifecycle. Such changes start small but gradually begin escalating in number and complexity, giving rise to significant obstacles in project management. Scope creep happens when stakeholders suddenly request additional deliverables than what was agreed upon initially. When this happens, project teams need to complete more tasks with the same resources allocated to them in the beginning.

Apart from the above examples of project management challenges, poor risk management, insufficient skills and poor stakeholder engagement are also some significant obstacles in project management.

How To Overcome Challenges In Project Management

We’ve identified some of the most prominent obstacles in project management. Now let’s find out how to overcome challenges in project management:

  1. Set SMART Goals

    Establishing specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals can go a long way to countering project management challenges and guiding teams successfully through a project’s lifecycle. Once such goals and milestones have been set, project managers must clearly articulate them to their team members, leaving no scope for confusion.

  2. Establish Realistic Deadlines

    To set realistic targets and deadlines, project managers must talk to the project team and the relevant stakeholders to establish a proper project schedule. Breaking down a project into smaller, more manageable tasks, monitoring employee progress and conducting regular check-ins throughout the project lifecycle is also essential to be able to modify deadlines if required.

  3. Communicate Better

    Project managers must not only be open with employees and keep them in the loop about project developments but also tailor their communication strategies to the different stakeholder groups they work with. This minimizes communication gaps, fosters transparency and promotes employee and stakeholder engagement.

  4. Manage Scope Creep

    Scope creep being among the most significant project management problems requires urgent attention. While some amount of deviation from a project’s original scope is inevitable, project managers must be proactive during a project’s planning phase and talk to clients and stakeholders to find out exactly what their requirements are and document them for a clear idea of deliverables. It’s also important to know when to turn down a change request or ask for an extension on the project’s deadline to ensure quality results without losing clients.

The challenges faced during project implementation are many. However, with proper planning, thorough monitoring and effective leadership, organizations can successfully overcome the obstacles in project management.

Excel At Project Management

The examples of project management challenges make it clear that project managers must plan ahead, think on their feet and be prepared to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. Harappa’s Manage Projects Expertly pathway can be your ultimate guide to leading, planning and delivering projects successfully. You’ll be able to analyze situations to build practical, achievable and effective solutions. Thrive Skills such as Commercial Acumen, Execution Excellence and Big-Picture Thinking will teach you how to be prepared and stay action-ready.

This pathway will also help you make the right decisions and execute plans with agility to achieve business goals on target. With frameworks such as SWOT and Cost-Benefit Analysis and The Good-Cheap-Fast Rule, you’ll gain awareness of your strengths and weaknesses, assess potential opportunities and threats and learn about project constraints. Want to excel at project management? Sign up today for Harappa’s Manage Projects Expertly pathway.


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