12 common project management mistakes--and how to avoid them

By Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, CIO |  IT Management, project management

Project Management Mistake No. 4: Putting Too Many Projects Into Production at Once. "Most managers think that they can get more done by starting all projects at once, but in reality, it's counterproductive," says Sanjeev Gupta, CEO of Realization, a Silicon Valley firm that helps organizations complete projects faster. "Multitasking slows people down, hurts quality and, worst of all, the delays caused by multitasking cascade and multiply through the organization as people further down the line wait for others to finish prerequisite tasks."

Solution: "To stop these productivity losses, a good first step is to reduce work in progress (WIP) by 25-50%," he says. "This reduces the back and forth and makes managers and experts more responsive in dealing with issues and questions. Though counter-intuitive, reducing the number of open projects by 25-50% can double task completion rates."

Project Management Mistake No. 5: Lack of (Regular) Communication/Meetings. "Communication is the most important factor of successful project management," says Tim Parkin, president, Parkin Web Development, which provides online strategy consulting for companies to align their business with technology to achieve high growth and profitability. "Without regularly and clearly communicating, the project will fall apart."

Solution: Pick a day and time to meet each week (either virtually or in person) that works for the team (not just the project manager) -- and stick with it. "Having specific days and times scheduled, in advance, helps to keep everyone on the same page and keeps the project flowing."

Project Management Mistake No. 6: Not Being Specific Enough with the Scope/Allowing the Scope to Frequently Change. "Any project that doesn't have an ultra-clear goal is doomed," says Halloran. Adds Oz Nazilli, marketing manager, Easy Projects, a Web-based project management tool, "scope change is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to your project. If not handled properly it can lead to cost and time overrun." Even something small, like changing the color of a logo or adding a page to a website might cause unexpected delays, he says.

Solution: Define the scope of your project from the outset and monitor the project regularly to make sure you and your team are keeping within the scope. And to avoid delays and deviation from the original scope, "track change requests separately from the original project scope, and provide estimates on how it will affect the schedule -- and get explicit customer/stakeholder approval for [each change]," suggests Nazilli.

Originally published on CIO |  Click here to read the original story.
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