Statistics show that 70% of projects fail to deliver desired results and 42% of organizations don’t even understand the importance of project management—but they also show that 73% of organizations that use a formal project-management approach always or often have met their goal.
The accepted conventions of project management—from methodologies to practices and strategies to software—are there to ensure organizational effectiveness, a concept that measures how efficiently an organization achieves its business goals.
Project managers face a range of challenges in their day-to-day life including poor project planning, lack of communication, and lack of accountability. The right project-management approach can help address these challenges and complete projects on time and within budget.
In this post, we will talk about key challenges in project management, essential project-management skills, strategies required to navigate the challenges of project management, and more.
Key Challenges that Managers Face
Project-management challenges can make a negative impact on the project’s progress, productivity, delivery, quality, and budget. Let’s understand the project-management challenges in brief.
A project has three facets:
- Goals and objectives of the project
- How and when the various project components are to be completed, and by whom
- Monitoring the project for quality control and on-time completion
A project manager faces a range of challenges related to these three facets of project management on a daily basis:
- Unclear and unrealistic goals and objectives
- Scope creep
- Budgeting issues
- Lack of communication
- Lack of accountability
- Team conflicts due to lack of direction
- Poor risk management
- Inadequately skilled team members
- Limited engagement of stakeholders
Now, let’s have a look at the essential skills a project manager needs to counter these common project-management challenges.
Essential Skills for Successful Project Management
A certain set of abilities is required for project managers to ace the project-management game. Here, we focus on five core skills.
1. Planning and Management
A project manager should be good at planning, scheduling, and allocating resources, including money and technology, in order to complete a project on time. A skilled project manager should be able to adopt various project methodologies and frameworks (such as agile, waterfall, and scrum) for effective and efficient resource planning and management.
2. Communication and Leadership Skills
According to Cesar Abeid, host of the Project Management for the Masses Podcast, project managers are involved in communication 90% of the time in some way.
A project manager should be able to effectively communicate with teams, clients, and other stakeholders involved in the project. Without good communication skills, it is hard for a project manager to lead the project well or credibly.
Communication skills include understanding challenges faced by collaborators on the project, knowing how to approach people, articulating the vision in simple words so that everyone can comprehend, and so on.
3. Time Management
Completing projects on time is very important. Project managers need good time-management skills so that they can prioritize tasks and compartmentalize projects.
Consistent monitoring and reporting are also required for effective time management. A project manager should be able to track the project’s progress and ask hard questions if some team members are not delivering on time.
4. Budget Management
Completing a project within budget is the primary aim of a project manager. A project manager should be able to control, negotiate, and track project costs.
Decision-making is another critical skill related to budget management. A good project manager should be able to make tough decisions using sound logic.
5. Risk Management
Projects do not often proceed as originally planned so project managers need to be prepared for things to go wrong. A project manager needs risk-management skills and should be aware of risk-management methodologies. They should also be good critical thinkers and problem-solvers so that they can identify potential risks and develop a set of solutions to mitigate those scenarios.
Strategies for Navigating Project-Management Challenges
When you are working on a project, you are bound to hit a few bumps along the way. Some challenges are more common than others so we have highlighted five strategies to address them.
1. Set clear goals and objectives
37% of projects fail due to a lack of clear goals. When team members do not know what is expected of them, a project is bound to fail. A project should have clear, well-defined, measurable goals, and everyone should be aware of their responsibilities related to those goals and the deadlines they are expected to meet.
The SMART approach is often used for setting goals and objectives. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
2. Establish effective channels of communication
According to the Project Management Institute, 30% of projects fail due to a lack of communication. When it comes to teamwork, communication is of prime importance. Poor communication leads to disruption in workflow, wasted resources, missed deadlines, absence of accountability, and a lot of turmoil on the team.
Develop well-organized, open, and transparent channels of communication. This will make it easy for everyone to be on the same page, collaborate with team members, and stay accountable.
You can use project management software such as Basecamp, ClickUp, and ProofHub to effectively communicate with all project team members and stakeholders. It provides a central platform that your team can use to collaborate.
3. Follow the agile approach to address scope creep
Scope creep is often the biggest challenge of any project and refers to changes to a client’s original project requirements. When scope creep happens, it leads to two things: increased budget or extended deadlines. It is always a good idea to address how scope creep might affect deadlines and budgets so your clients are not caught off guard.
The best way to handle scope creep is to use an agile project management methodology. It helps you to focus on your specific project goals while continuously reviewing priorities and plans.
You can also address scope creep by involving clients in project planning and providing them with collaboration tools for stakeholder engagement in the project. This makes scope creep less likely and more manageable when it does occur.
4. Track progress and maintain accountability
Project tracking is a key part of project management. It helps you take control of the project and meet its deadlines. It also ensures that project-team members always have direction. 14% of project managers reported that lack of direction was a cause of team conflicts in their projects.
You can ensure tracking and accountability when you have a centralized place for project management. Project management software such as ProofHub, Basecamp, and Asana helps you create, manage, and track tasks and hold people accountable.
5. Develop a plan to manage project risks and issues
Risk analysis is integral to successful project planning, but a good project manager should evaluate risks throughout the lifecycle of a project, especially for long-term projects. This will help you mitigate and manage project risks.
You can refer to the risk-management templates for risk analysis or you can adopt the philosophy of “what-if” to create hypothetical scenarios and develop contingency plans.
Ace Project Management
Good project management can help organizations complete their projects successfully.
- Teams can complete the work with the least amount of resistance
- Organizations can complete the work on time, on budget, with the least waste
- Clients get the desired results
To achieve these outcomes, a project manager needs the right knowledge and understanding of project-management practices, software, methodologies, strategies, and skills. By using the right skills and tools, a project manager can ace project management over time, and this will be good for everyone: teams, organizations, and clients.
Vartika Kashyap is the chief marketing officer at ProofHub, a powerful Asana alternative. She is a strong headed woman who always puts her innovative inputs into project management, collaboration, balancing work and life with technology, and more. She is active on various platforms, including LinkedIn, the e-learning industry, and more, to share her expertise. Off hours, she enjoys motherhood and reading about mental well-being.