No one sets out on a project hoping it will be a bust. But it happens—even at the most prestigious companies. We all know what a successfully completed project looks like: on-time, within budget, in-scope and aligned with organizational objectives. One might think top-of-the-line tools, excellent leadership and hard work will guarantee a project’s triumph. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case.
Apply Murphy’s Law of “anything that can go wrong,” to projects.
There are plenty of factors that play into a project getting derailed. Here are the five most common culprits.
Communication impacts every single stage of a project. Not establishing effective communication results in mismanaging timelines, a project’s budget and your team. Regularly interacting with all team members and exchanging updates is a crucial part of any project’s success. Regardless of how well you are doing and how quiet your team seems to be, not keeping the lines of communication open can result in a total project flop. Setting up communication expectations at a project’s start, such as deliverable assessments and status check-ins, will keep your team aware of their duties and on task. Emphasizing budget and scope requirements right off the bat is the best way to avoid misused resources, ignored deadlines and strained budgets.
All projects move through a life cycle. An aspect that is often overlooked is documentation. While teams might be hard at work expertly fulfilling their tasks in a timely fashion, they might not be allocating the time to keeping a record of where they are in their process. Neglecting documentation puts projects at risk.
When teams aren’t required to indicate what they have completed, what they are currently working on and what’s next on their agenda, accountability starts to slip through the cracks. Documentation helps keep teams aligned. All team members must be aware of who is doing what, how much has already been completed and what lies on the horizon. With proper documentation, the chances of a project staying on task improve tenfold. If a well-documented project does fall off the tracks, it’s easy to identify the bottlenecks it ran into, and to quickly resolve them. Pipefy is one of the best tools out there to keep track of responsibles and project progress.
A project’s schedule is always a determining factor for its success—or its demise. When a project is appropriately scheduled, there will be various factors considered when establishing a deadline. Chunks of the project will have their own anticipated dates of completion. Potential delays and unforeseen obstacles will be accounted for. When a project is rushed due to shoddy scheduling, the hastily completed work might be less than ideal. If a project is not following the expected timeline (it happens), project stakeholders must be kept informed and updated immediately if things progress faster—or slower—than anticipated.
When there are too many things on your team’s plates, it will negatively impact the quality of the work, resulting in less than stellar projects and frustrated stakeholders. One of the principles of the Lean methodology is limiting work in progress. An excellent job on a critical assignment trumps a mediocre job on several tasks performed simultaneously.
If you’re using Pipefy, you can move your previous task to “on hold” before you put something else on your “doing” column. That way, you’ll know you must return to that first task after you take care of the more urgent one.
If you’re a project manager, you’re probably accustomed to juggling tasks, communicating with team members, updating clients and aiding a hand, all while the clock is ticking. This can be very stressful, and as a result, it can affect your work and your behavior. Stress is contagious and can hang heavy in the air, particularly if you are working in close quarters. Constant stress can ruin team morale and your projects.
While leaders might want the perception of a well-performing project regardless of circumstances, a team deserves to receive information and concerns from leadership and stakeholders so they can get ahead of the curve. Withholding insights prevents teams from having a chance to rescue their deliverables and address issues. By keeping the lines open, managers can relieve the tension of bottling everything up and might learn they had less to worry about than they originally thought.