10 Guaranteed Ways to Screw Up an IT Project
Your IT project will inevitably run into bumps along the way. However, there are things that can end up silently killing it. IT executives and project management experts can name dozens of reasons why projects get off track. We are starting with the top 10 ways to derail a project – and how to avoid these pitfalls.
#1. Adding yet another solution or tool
Project managers are frequently faced with a particular challenge – and with the best intentions, they are tempted to solve the issue by adding another solution or tool to the mix. Next, they end up using ten different tools, and each of them solves only a small part of the problem. The entire process is disconnected.
If workers and processes are not in sync, it leads to chaos. Instead of wasting time on dealing with ‘fragmented’ tools, look for the one that provides a single place to manage work, improves visibility and increases productivity.
#2. Using the same methodology for projects of any size
One size doesn’t fit all. Every project is unique: some projects are relatively straightforward and predictable; others are highly complex and risky. Applying the same methodology to every project is wasteful.
Project managers are often tempted to use the methodology they are most familiar with. This is the easiest path but it is not always the right one. The project manager along with the team should tailor the methodology to fit a certain project considering its size, cost, complexity, risks, constraints, stakeholders and the company goals and values.
#3. Not setting expectations from the start
One of the key ways to screw up a project is to not create a roadmap and define expectations at the beginning of the project. Before you start, make sure that both the customer and the project team have a clear understanding of two things: a) what you are going to do and b) how you know you’re done.
#4. Not securing sponsor support
You have to be the same page with the sponsor if you want to move the project in the desired direction. Running a project without sponsor support is a recipe for disaster.
#5. Overloading the team
People are not machines. Even if one team member is overloaded, the end product is likely to suffer.
When building a project team, involve those people whose skills, knowledge and expertise match the project requirements. Know the strengths of your team and spread out the workload as much as possible. Make sure your project is fully staffed and you don’t have to move employees back and forth or wait until a relevant team member becomes available to work on it.
#6. Saying yes to every request
Part of being a good manager is saying ‘no’ to requests that are not in the best interest of your company, project or customer. Knowing when to say ‘no’ (and if possible, offer an alternative) can prevent a project from a delay.
Remember, nothing is free. So if you say ‘yes’, make sure you explain what it will take to satisfy the request.
#7. Ignoring the team
A manager who is not a team player and who makes decisions without consulting the team is leading the project to failure.
If the team doesn’t work together, then instead of focusing on the common goal, they spend time looking for others to blame for mistakes and delays. It’s a manager’s responsibility to consult the team and gain their approval – otherwise, the project will be heading for disaster.
#8. Too many meetings
Nothing kills productivity more than status meetings. Sure, there might be some important information but you can share it through a collaborative system. Reserve team meetings only for decision-making: defining and removing bottlenecks, re-prioritizing tasks, refocusing the team, etc.
#9. The “good enough” syndrome
When there is schedule or budget pressure, the project manager might be tempted to reduce QA efforts. But the lack of proper quality assurance results in a real disaster. If the quality of the end product is low, the team will have to re-work and eliminate mistakes.
The project team needs to understand that the cost of preventing errors is lower than the cost of fixing them. As simple as that.
#10. Not learning from past mistakes
Project failure is a source of professional wisdom. If you analyse the mistakes and learn from them, a failure in one project may become a step toward much better results in your next one.
If your team is committed to self-improvement, spending a few hours on analysis will be really rewarding for them. After all, failure is success if we learn from it.