Is your project headed for speed bumps?
Project management is a precarious balancing act, and it can be hard to predict when clear skies may turn to stormy weather. Here are six tips for identifying whether your project is running into trouble.Do you know the warning signs that emerge when a project is about to hit a rough patch? If not, you might already be there and not know it. Read on to learn the six red flags indicating that you should brace yourself for speed bumps.
Many projects fall victim to cost overruns, prolonged delays, or outright failure. So what's the secret to success? If you're looking for more effective ways to keep your cool, plan ahead, and deliver more of your projects in a timely and cost-effective manner, read on for some proven expert tips:
1. Scope creepWikipedia defines scope creep as "uncontrolled changes in a project's scope". Typically, the scope increase consists of new features of already approved system designs, without corresponding increases in resources, schedule, or budget. As a result, the project team risks drifting away from its original purpose and scope into unplanned additions. As the scope of a project grows, more tasks must be completed within the budget and schedule originally designed for a smaller set of tasks. Thus, scope creep can result in a project team overrunning its original budget and schedule.
2. Poorly articulated goalsSome project goals might seem so obvious that they're not worth discussing, but you should discuss them anyway. Nothing is more dangerous to the health of a project than a team of individuals who are each working toward different, assumed goals. Only by making your objections explicit to everyone can you expect consistent priorities and create a strategy that works.
3. Lack of user involvementThis issue has proven detrimental to many projects. Without user involvement, it's virtually impossible to feel committed to a system, and you may even face strong opposition. To ensure a successful project, senior management and users need to be involved from the start and continuously throughout the development process. This requires time and effort, but when business resources are already stretched thin, it can be difficult to find the time. Members of the management team should continuously support the project to make it a clear priority for staff.
4. Lack of connection between the project and the businessImagine a project that has clear, consistent goals and leadership... but where those goals and directions appear to be in conflict with the objectives of the company as a whole. Sense a conflict in the making? This kind of project is dangerous, because it appears to be functioning smoothly until the rug gets pulled out from under your team. Don't let this happen to you! The best way to address this kind of disconnect is through open communication between your IT development team and business management. Once everyone is on the same page and there's a clear, uniform strategy in place, you can move forward with confidence.
5. Poor listening skillsCommunication skills aren't standardised - everyone has their own unique way of sharing information, speaking, and listening to others. Some teams are able to work as a coherent unit, while others struggle to communicate. If you feel that your team members aren't listening to one other, it may be time for an intervention before you hit trouble.
6. Dissent among the teamWhether there are differences of opinion over the direction of your project or personal squabbles causing tension and stress in your workplace, disagreements among your team can spell trouble ahead. Management can - and should - step in at a certain point to mediate a solution to the problem. If you don't have the skills in-house, hire a project manager to help weed out the biggest sources of discord. Don't underestimate the power of dissent to tear apart a team and sabotage a project.
Preventing project problemsThese six issues are a good summary of the sort of warning signs to watch out for. If you can provide strong management, defined goals, ties between your company and your project, clear communication, and a positive, team-oriented environment, you're well on your way to a project that will meet its targets on time and within budget.
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