3 Project Management Headaches and How to Fix Them
All projects are phased in two steps: project creation and project management. A project is a well-defined task which is a collection of several operations done in a particular order to achieve a goal. For example, software development and delivery is a project. Every project manager has to deal with finite resources be it in terms of manpower, finance, time, material and even knowledge.
As many teams are involved in completing a project, communication is a major touch point which the project team must nail in order to complete the project on time.
Miscommunication can put the entire project in jeopardy and the end result might come out to be far away from the requirements of the client.
All these roadblocks can be a headache for a project manager and as managers, we are all constantly searching for a way to solve these problems. There are many project management headaches out there but the 3 most common ones that haunt project managers every now. But there’s an easy way to solve these with the right planning.
The E-Mail Barrage
Managers have multiple e-mail accounts and they are already overwhelmed with the number of unread messages in those accounts. Some managers have thousands of unread messages and to be frank, e-mail is not the right place to discuss or communicate the intricacies of a project. An e-mail account is not a project management tool and there are high chances that an important work-related e-mail will get lost in the sea of unread emails.
E-mail is the place to send and receive company notices, newsletters, facts, etc. Work discussion, file transfers and all of that should be done in person where the information doesn’t get lost. A collaboration software or tool is perhaps the best way to streamline work discussions and file transfers. All the important files will stay protected in the system and anyone can easily view it after weeks or even months.
The same if done with e-mail will get lost and the manager might have to spend their precious time searching for that file.
The mailbox is a chaos and that’s where a collaboration tool comes into play. It basically organizes the tasks given to all the team members. More importantly, it helps you keep everything organized. This simplifies everyone’s job as the members do not have to open their work emails every now and then. All discussions about the project takes place in one place which avoids loss of information.
Project Schedule Update
The project schedule is of utmost importance as it communicates various deadlines related to different phases of a project. It is essentially a tool to monitor progress towards specific goals in a project. It tells the management whether or not a particular project will finish within the deadline or it has to be extended.
Updating the project schedule is the project manager’s responsibility. The business environment is dynamic and it is very likely that the actual progress is quite far-off from estimated progress. The manager has to take into consideration all these things while making a schedule.
Also, when the manager is aware of delays, he has to update the schedule in light of the delays. This task is very cumbersome as the manager has to recalculate the entire schedule from that point onwards.
The project managers need not keep asking team members about their progress. Instead, the members should update the schedule as and when they have completed their tasks. This process becomes even more seamless with a project management software.
The best part about project management software is that it updates the schedule as and when a task is completed. The project manager can simply import the schedule from the software and present it in the form of a PowerPoint presentation to the upper management.
All this happens with a single click. The project management software updates the schedule as a member marks the task complete. This kind of software is quite beneficial for the manager as they can now focus on more productive parts of their job and let the software automate the unproductive task of updating the project schedule.
Estimating the Duration of a Particular Task
Seventy percent of the times, a manager wrongly anticipates the completion date of a particular time. However, this is not the fault of the project manager because the business environment is dynamic and the manager has to complete the tasks in accordance with the updated requirements. Nevertheless, the manager still has to give an estimate to the clients in light of the information that they have with them.
Managers have the tendency to decide on their own about the duration of a particular task without taking a second opinion from the team. When the manager communicates the same duration to the clients without consulting the team, it is very likely that the task would not be completed within that time frame. This could have three consequences and all of them are bad for the organization; a drop in quality, increase in the cost of the project, and high chances of missing the deadline.
Instead of asking your team members to give a fixed date on the completion of a task, ask them for a range within which they can accomplish the task. This is beneficial for the team members because they are not pressurized to commit to a certain date. It also means that there are more chances of meeting the deadline now as the team members themselves had a say in it.
While it provides a sense of autonomy, it also makes them feel responsible for meeting that deadline. Moreover, the range of time acts as a buffer for the team to complete the task within the final deadline.
When the team has a single point estimate, there is a pressure to complete the task on time and the team may scramble if the task is not finished on time. Two-point estimation, on the other hand, is perhaps the best way to set deadlines and monitor progress. Setting this kind of estimates works in the favor of the team as it allows them to deliver on or just before the final delivery date.
Get Started, Get Organized
These were the 3 most common and prevalent project management headaches that project managers have to deal with every now and then. There are many other issues apart from these and all of them have multiple cures.
Lack of communication with the team, not grouping a big task into smaller ones, not prioritizing small tasks, resistance to change, not having a PLAN B, etc. are some of the many project management headaches. Believe it or not, a project management software can solve a large majority of the above-mentioned problems. Take some time out and deploy a project management tool, a lot of your troubles with project management will go away in a jiffy.
Guest writer Shyamal Parikh is the Founder of SmartTask, an online work management tool that's helping teams be more productive by having clarity on who's doing what by when. Has a penchant for researching and sharing strategies that could benefit a team's productivity.