Whether you are tasked to start a new residential development or create a new dating app, as a Project Management Professional (PMP), your task is to ensure delivery. You count on your project team leaders, the Project Management Office, and the team members to help you keep the project on time and on budget.
Picking up on the play isn’t just the job of the quarterback. Spotting signals is the job of the project manager. As the coach of the team, you need to be able to look for the signals, practices and techniques that can lead to a loss. Signals of poor project management.
Once you’ve determined the scope of the project, completed the plan, and executed the plan, it’s time to monitor and control. The only way to get closure is to consistently monitor the project, the budget, the schedule, the resources, etc. Ensuring that your team knows the goals of the project and are motivated to work together leads to success. When those two things aren’t working, poor project management has reared its ugly head.
1. Schedule Delays
Project schedule delays are often unavoidable even when you have followed all of the best business practices. Whether the objectives are poorly defined, there is scope creep, or poorly defined objectives, oversight can delay the entire project.
Creating an unrealistic schedule based on poor data or underscheduling or overworking teams can cause delays that flow from one task to the next, affecting the entire scope of the project.
Scope creep often occurs when features or functions are added to the project without considering the effects they will have on time, budget and resources throughout the scope.
Poor project management often starts with the loss of control of the project, the lack of monitoring the schedule.
Preventing Project Schedule Delays
Job site coordination is the most important factor according to the 2020 Levelset National Construction Payment Report. The survey found that 70% of the people surveyed felt that it is the number one reason projects get delayed.
Keeping the information flowing within the different teams means fewer misconceptions and fewer mistakes.
Risks occur and by planning for things that are often out of your control, you know how to deal with them.
By keeping the monitoring and controlling you can keep the project on time. Which leads us to the next sign, cost overruns.
2. Cost Overruns
Schedule delays often lead to cost overruns. Poor project management often leads to inaccurate estimates, poor resource management, and, consequently, poor budget management. The bigger the overrun, the less net profit the organization makes on the project.
An incompetent project manager doesn’t apply the proper strategies. In the planning stage of the project, they will over or underestimate the costs. The budget is exceeded and the organization pays the price.
Cost overruns affect all aspects of the project. From resources, to personnel, the additional work can make getting back on track nearly impossible. In the case of large projects, mismanagement can have profound consequences. While losing a client is never a good situation, the aftershocks can result in a loss of reputation and new client offerings. In severe cases, mismanaged project management can lead to getting the doors closed for good.
Preventing Cost Overruns
By applying proper project management techniques, a project manager can accurately estimate the costs. Using a systematic approach and thorough planning, a project manager should always be looking for ways to save as much money as possible while staying within or under budget. Utilizing existing resources, finances, personnel, materials, and time, a good project manager can find the most economical solution. They only seek out additional resources when absolutely necessary.
Project managers that are observing best practices are also aware of outside, quality, economical, resources that they can utilize. They take into consideration all of the options, for example, in-house manufacturing vs. external purchase cost. The scope of work may require a certain product or service that can be sourced from within, or they may need to call on their pool of outside resources, vendors, personnel, or materials. By avoiding waste with proper planning, they are able to stay under budget and in many cases even save the organization money in the long run.
3. Poor Team Management
Poorly managed projects that fail to meet their objectives will cause demotivation in team members. Lack of focus, loss in productivity, can cause the team to become apathetic. They may feel they could lose incentives and bonuses, be laid off, lose promotions, be demoted, or even fired.
When project goals or individual team goals aren’t spelled out it can lead to team members being pulled in different directions. Criticism and lack of appreciation, contradiction in work methods, breakdowns in communication and misused or biased uses of policies can all lead to poor team management.
Motivating the Team
Effective project management depends on planning, monitoring, and control.
Availability and assignment management are key to keeping the team motivated. Project managers and team leaders need to be able to anticipate, address, and dismiss the problems as they arise. With clear communication and remembering that the project manager is there not only to manage the team but also to serve the team and the project, the team will stay motivated producing the results needed to get the project done on time and on budget.
4. Poor Choices
Whether it’s individuals that don’t work well within a team, or aren’t skilled enough to perform the tasks, choosing personnel poorly can lead to a variety of issues.
Gold Plating is often a problem with poor project management that can lead to scheduling delays. Inexperienced team members may try to please the customer by adding additional functions or products without prior authorization from the project management team or the stakeholders. A poor project manager is unaware of when this occurs until too late. By not controlling the flow of the project they often lose control of the team, costing more time, and more money.
The first step is picking the team. Project managers and the project management office that choose their leads poorly may be subject to poor results. As most teams are picked by the team leader, when the team isn’t constructed to fit personalities, the results can be disastrous. Infighting and friction can cause a power struggle between team members and/or the team lead.
Resource choices are as vital as team choices. Choosing the wrong vendor, whether it’s because they came in at a lower cost, or the wrong equipment can lead to massive schedule delays, and cost overruns.
The word management in PMP is not just a buzzword. It’s the most important part of the job description. That may sound simplistic, but it’s something that should never be forgotten.
Through all process groups, the management of the project is the most important thing. It is key to planning, ensuring the right people are assigned to the job, and the resources required are managed and controlled.
Poor project management can blemish what was once a stellar example within an organization’s market. One failing project might be caused by unforeseen events; however when there are recurrent failures on several levels and through several projects, the news will spread, and the customers will fall away, going over to competitors, even those that are new to the marketplace.
Customers demand quality. They want the product on time. If changes are requested by the customer, the budget may be able to be stretched, but cost overruns due to goldplating, scope creep, and poor project management, will cause them to go elsewhere.
Studies have shown that if a customer is satisfied with a product or service, they will tell an average of 3 people. Of those three people, one in three might take that recommendation and use the product or service. If a customer is dissatisfied, they will tell a minimum of 10 people. This causes issues with current and future projects.
A bad reputation can also cause a problem with resource management within the organization. Finding and keeping quality personnel, getting bids from quality vendors, and finding quality equipment is harder when the reputation that follows is negative.
Fans that consistently see a failing team stop buying tickets and without revenue the team can’t survive. Players will go to other teams, owners will look for another coach, and in the worst case scenario, the team may leave town altogether.
Sustainability Risk for the Organization
As stated above, there can always be problems within a project, and one failed project does not always ruin the organization as a whole. Continued failures however, can lead to the end of an organization, especially if those failures are caused by poor project management. If the organization can no longer produce, compete and profit, it will lose resources, reputation, and money. Bankruptcy and closure may be close at hand.
Repeated failures due to poor project management often represent a top down management approach. When the team owner is calling down to the field to make the calls for the players, rather than letting the coach call the plays, there can be mayhem on the field. Likewise if the coach isn’t paying attention to the play, the chances for a win dwindle. It’s not just one person that causes the loss. With a top down management approach, the team failures are from the booth all the way to the locker room.
When an organization fails, it is a shared responsibility, just as success is shared when an organization is thriving. Unfortunately, organizations that have too many failed projects, big or small, will not be able to survive. The competition is waiting for these failures to sack the quarterback.
Changing the Play
The signals can be avoided in order to maintain the sustainability of an organization. By following the information learned from the knowledge areas in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), a professional project manager keeps aware of current market trends, laws, and codes, not only for their project area but also in the areas that affect the organization.
Having a plan to deal with each of the knowledge areas:
- Human Resources
- and stakeholder management,
will assist to mitigate any of the poor project management techniques that may be present in the organization.
Understanding what the customers want, what’s available, and what the competitors are offering is all part of procuring the project. That information needs to be consistently addressed throughout the project to keep it and the organization as a whole sustainable.
If a project goes over schedule or budget, fails to produce a quality product, or loses its focus, it’s time to change the play and mitigate the risk.
Proper project management starts with planning. By studying all of the data to produce a scope of work that recognizes setbacks and provides a plan for dealing with them, a good project manager can mitigate the risk to the organization’s sustainability.
Staying aware of current market trends, laws, and codes, not only for the project area you work directly in but also in the areas that affect your organization can help to mitigate the risk as well. Understanding what the customers want, what’s available, and what the competitors are offering is all part of procuring the project. That information needs to be consistently addressed throughout the project to keep it and the organization as a whole sustainable.
Upper management must not only be kept up to date with the projects within the organization, but they need to keep up to date with what is making others in their industry grow. Effective communication, proper training, and instruction will keep personnel resources at a level to encourage growth.
Again, the project manager is there to serve as well as manage. In order to lead, they must manage themselves. Good project managers are persistent, productive, and prudent. They are the heart of the organization and the key to sustainability.
Businesses fail daily due to poor project management. Delays in delivery, higher costs, and lack of planning can all contribute to failure. But there is always hope. You may see issues like cost overruns, schedule delays, issues with the suppliers, resources, etc. The project manager must ensure first that they have a proper change management process in place. The request management process should ensure that every change request is assessed and then approved.
If you allow changes to be accepted and incorporated without proper assessment, you will start to see rapid change requests coming your way and from all directions. Your customer, your employees, and the other stakeholders – all will be requesting the things to include in the project. This will obviously result in deviations from the project plans. Similarly, you will start to see gold-plating and scope creep happening, which is not acceptable in projects. Effective project management should ensure that all change requests go through a proper change control mechanism. Moreover, they should ensure that only the beneficial changes are accepted.
Celebrate the Victory
A survey at a corporate training program was conducted to try and determine what project managers believe to be the fundamental consequences of poor project management. The findings were clear. Delays, incompetent resources, and project cost overruns were the most common problems that project managers faced in project delivery. The consequences of stakeholder mismanagement can also be quite hard to deal with.
Over half of the issues that any organization faces are related to project schedule delays and project cost overruns. The project management office and project managers specifically are tasked to anticipate these issues in order to avoid short and long-term consequences that may affect the organization as a whole.
We’ve provided you with the signals necessary to change your playbook and keep your organization one of quality and on top of whatever industry you serve.
The consequences of poor project management are schedule delays, cost overruns, demotivated teams, a bad reputation, and sustainability risk to the organization. Research has proven that the majority of businesses fail because of poor project management. Lack of planning shows in the failure of projects within an organization.
Mitigating the risk starts in the planning stage. First, the schedule has to be set up properly, using accurate information, provided by knowledgeable team members to avoid and anticipate schedule delays.
This leads us to the budget which must accurately reflect the costs of the project, known as well as anticipated, in order to avoid costly change orders and cost overruns.
Team management starts with picking the right team to get the job done. A team that understands the goals of the project and one that has the skill set to complete the tasks. Keeping your team motivated and engaged will lead to keeping the organization’s reputation intact.
All of these things, when done correctly, mean that the project can flow smoothly. Even when issues arise, the choices made at the beginning of the game can bring you to the endzone.
Poor project management means a lousy season, loss of revenue, and loss of reputation. Good project management relies on knowledge, creativity, and the ability to pick up the pieces and get back in the game. A setback means that there was movement forward and there will be forward movement as long as the project management team is capable and rational when creating the project plan.
Poor project management can be summed up in the immortal words of Vince Lombardi,“Once you learn to quit it becomes a habit.”
But he also said, “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
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