How to Avoid Common Project Problems

In my profession, I have worked as a Project Manager for the pharmaceutical industry for over 10 years.  I have been trained in various Project Management Methodologies and have conducted various workshops on Project Management in my industry.  The overwhelming success of a project is managing risk.

Chess bishop 1000.jpg
Chess bishop 1000.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Risks in a project are in general terms those things that can go wrong. What about all those common things that are simply defined as project problems? Besides the risk of falling behind timelines, going off budget, or simply producing poor-quality results, here are some ways to avoid common project problems:

1) Too many chiefs and not enough indians.  One person wants it done by Wednesday, one says make it Tuesday; another wants you to use Microsoft Project, while another hates that program. It’s important to establish from the start who is in a position of authority and then standardize the expectations of the team. If you have to answer to nine people, you’ll have a project going in nine directions and none of them will be toward the goal.

2) Another one bites the dust. Old disasters under new names with new leaders do not work unless a key component has been changed.  Maybe it was the leader that was the issue; however make sure you do your homework and find out if this project can indeed be done, or if you are in a situation with too little funding, poor resources, and no clear-cut plan of action. If that’s the case, run like hell.

3)I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today. Some projects are in constant delay. Something is always slowing them down, whether it’s funding, audits, lack of resources, or simply low priority due to other, more demanding projects. This is not generally a good sign. Try to get a firm start date along with project expectations. The longer you delay, the less likely the project will succeed.

4)Speak now or forever hold your peace. Sure, there are plenty of documents, reports, and even e-mails, but poor or no communication between people is generally not a good sign. As far as things have progressed technologically, when projects that rely on people have no communication, they generally lose both enthusiasm and the element of creative thinking and planning that comes from such interaction among team members.

5)Naked Thursdays! If the boss has odd requests, make sure to tactfully, put them into perspective of the project goals. You cannot do every offbeat scheme that someone wants to try. Be very selective and always explain that your decision is based on what’s in the best interests of the project.

You’re likely nodding your head at this list of common problems. You have probably experienced the same things. It’s impossible to plan for all of the potential risks on a project or prevent projects from going off track. However, with this list of common project problems, at least you know where to start the planning process and how to start to address these risks.

2 thoughts on “How to Avoid Common Project Problems”

  1. Hi Cassie,

    Guides on handling project problems are usually appreciated by project managers, and that’s why I would like to republish your post on PM Hut, where many project managers will benefit from it.

    Please either email me or contact me through the contact us form on the PM Hut website in case you’re OK with this.


    1. Hello. Thank you for the query on the republish opportunity. I welcome this opportunity and certainly appreciate the offer. Let me know if you need anything further. Cheers, Cassie


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