10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 5

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 5

Ignoring Problems

All projects have problems. Inexperienced project managers believe that sufficient time exists to solve these problems only to discover that the costs of correcting these problems later on in the project life cycle was significantly more expensive than making the repairs in the earlier stages of the project. Remember the 1-10-100 rule. What costs $1.00 to fix in requirements costs $10.00 to fix in planning and $100.00 to fix after the project is delivered.

Project managers cannot be selective in which problems to solve. All project problems must be addressed, and the sooner the better. While it is true that project managers may not be able to solve the problems themselves, they should at least know what subject matter experts they need to address the issues.

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10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 4

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 4

Over-reliance on Repeatable Processes

Companies may spend years creating an enterprise project management (EPM) methodology. The intent is that the methodology will be used on all projects for all customers and from cradle to grave. While the intent has merit, EPM methodologies do not account for every possible problem that can exist on every project. Having blind faith in the expectation that repeatable processes will solve your problems is a mistake. Repeatable processes appear in the form of guidelines, forms, templates and checklists. Repeatable processes are NOT a replacement or substitute for management attention, effective decision-making, or problem-solving. They are simply tools for the PM to use, and as we all know, projects are managed by people rather than tools. Today there are many options to deliver strategic projects using different methods such as agile.

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10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 3

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 3

Preparing an Overly Ambitious Schedule

The more inexperienced the project manager, the more optimistic he or she becomes when preparing the schedule baseline. While ambitious schedules are nice to have, they are often unrealistic and can make matters worse. Customers are never told that the schedule is ambitious and therefore believe the schedule is realistic. The customers then focus on the milestone dates and now, when the milestones slip from ambitious to reality, you have an unhappy customer who wonders what other surprises will show up next.

Another factor to consider is the impact on the functional estimates. Ambitious schedules may require team members to perform at a higher position on the learning curve thus changing the functional standards. Functional managers may not want their estimates and standards to be changes. Also, ambitious schedules may require the company’s best functional workers to be assigned to the project and this may be unrealistic. Doing this also takes valuable resources from finishing a project on time and becoming available to another project due to poor time estimations.

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10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 2

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 2

Pretending to Know More than You Actually Do

For the most part, project managers today possess an understanding of technology rather than a command of technology yet persist in trying to make technical decisions on the project. This usually infuriates line managers to the show him who’s boss.

The size and complexity of today’s projects should make it clear to project managers that they must rely heavily upon the assigned subject matter experts and functional leads for technical direction and support. On some projects, such as in R&D, project manager assignments may be dictated by a requirement for a command of technology rather than just an understanding, but this is an exception rather than the rule. Good project managers know their limitations and never try to dictate a solution without first consulting with the true experts. Know your limits and let the experts do what they do best.

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10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 1

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make – Mistake 1

Too Much Detail

Inexperienced project managers tend to become enamored with work breakdown structures (WBS). One newly appointed project manager asked me to review his WBS for an IT project. The thirty-day project had 340 work packages and some of the work packages were broken down into minutes rather than hours or days.

While the project manager was proud of his accomplishment in the creation of a “micro-level” WBS, he neglected to consider the amount of time and effort required by the team to manage at that level of detail. The cost involved to establish possibly 340 charge numbers and track them accordingly could easily increase the management support cost of the project by fifty percent or more.

Project managers must establish an appropriate WBS level from which to manage. Creating a highly detailed WBS is an invitation to micromanage a project, thus alienating functional managers. Most project managers today do not possess the technical expertise to create such a detailed WBS without functional assistance. Just picture yourself attending the kickoff meeting for a thirty-day project and being handed a WBS with 340 work packages.

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