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How to Avoid the 5 Most Common Project Management Failures

Why do projects fail? If only there was a simple answer. Even with the best intentions and a highly motivated team, every experienced project manager knows that any number of unforeseen problems and challenges can derail even the best-laid projects.

According to a UK-wide survey, 31% of business projects fail at an estimated overall cost of £250 billion to the UK economy. Why? It’s because projects are inherently uncertain, and where there’s uncertainty, there’s always scope for things to go wrong.

In this article, we’ll identify some of the most common reasons that projects fail and look at how Scoro project management software can help you to avoid them in the future.

1. Your objectives are unclear

According to the Project Management Institute, a lack of clear objectives is the most common factor behind project failure, accounting for 37% of all failures across industries and sectors. And that stands to reason – after all if you don’t have clear goals and objectives for your project, how can you strategize about achieving them?

Whatever industry you operate in, the planning phase of a project is critical. It sets out what your objectives are and how you’ll meet them. The trouble is that with tight deadlines to meet, project planning can often be rushed, with essential details not discussed. The result is a directionless project team.

Instead, try turning the planning phase of a project into a mini project in itself. Set headline objectives and then break them down into the smaller goals you must achieve along the way. Once you have a critical path to completion, you can determine the KPIs that will measure your performance.

At the end of the project planning phase, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  • What is the end goal of the project?
  • Which KPIs will measure your performance towards that goal?
  • How long will it take to achieve the goal?
  • How much will it cost?
  • What other resources (human or technological) do we need to get there?

How to track KPIs with Scoro

A project can only work if the criteria for success are defined from the start – that’s where Scoro comes in.

With Scoro, you can plan and manage your projects from beginning to end. This enables you to define everything from the big picture project objectives to the goals of every team and individual. What’s more, you can track and manage all of your chosen metrics and KPIs in Scoro.

2. Your team suffers from Expectation Alignment Disorder

Another common source of project management problems is something called Expectation Alignment Disorder (EAD). This occurs when a project doesn’t live up to the expectations of project stakeholders, such as internal teams, contractors, external suppliers, senior management, and most importantly, the clients.

In the majority of cases, the cause of EAD is poor communication. Once it occurs, it can be very damaging for a project, potentially leading to reduced engagement, strained relationships, and poor project performance.

However, it can be easily overcome by aligning and managing the expectations of your project’s stakeholders from the outset. This process should start before the project begins and continue throughout, as changes are made to its plans and requirements.

Expectations can be aligned by giving all stakeholders the level of detail they need to play their part in the project effectively. This information – including project outlines, KPIs, deadlines, resources, and budgetary details – should continue to be shared at every stage, with stakeholders given the freedom to raise queries and concerns.

How to avoid EAD with Scoro

With Scoro, you can assign different levels of access rights to every project stakeholder. That enables you to give everyone access to the information they need – from project teams to clients and senior managers – without bogging them down with data, documents, and updates that aren’t relevant to them.

Find out more about Scoro’s customer portal

3. You’re suffering from scope creep

Scope creep is a term that universally strikes fear into the hearts of project managers, and rightly so. Nearly half of all projects experience some degree of scope creep, with only 57% finishing within budget and 51% finishing on schedule as a result.

The scope of a project is the work required to achieve the project’s objectives. When that scope starts to creep, it can lead to changes in the project’s requirements over its lifecycle, typically resulting in delays, roadblocks, insufficient budgets, and unsatisfied customers.

One infamous example of scope creep and one of the most notorious project management mistakes of all time is Denver International Airport’s attempt to create a fully automated baggage handling system. They did get there in the end, but it took more than 2,000 (yes, you read that right!) design changes to get there. As a result, the project finished 16 months late and 250% over budget.

As the project manager, it is your job to keep scope creep in check. That can be done by:

  • Involving all of the relevant stakeholders from the jump
  • Comparing the actual work done with the baseline scope
  • Determining the cause and degree of any deviations from the baseline scope
  • Managing and deciding on all change requests
  • Updating the project’s overall scope and cost baseline when change requests are approved
  • Documenting and communicating changes properly

How to avoid scope creep with Scoro

Scoro is the perfect solution to have when creating a successful project scope. It becomes the project hub and enables you to keep a close eye on the health of your project and ensure that no change in the project goes untracked.

With Scoro, it’s easy to track progress, tasks, and dependencies in real time. It means that when changes are made, you can quickly see how they will impact your plans and adjust your team’s utilization accordingly. It also enables you to compare the initial project timeline to the finalized project timeline to better prepare for any future project.

Read on: Scoro Introduces First Real-Time Gantt Chart

4. Your lines of communication are tangled

You might think that having multiple lines of communication is a good thing, as it allows your project stakeholders to communicate in whichever way suits them. However, the truth is that when it comes to project communication, usually less is more.

Having emails flying around, multiple instant messaging channels, and endless client phone calls can quickly lead to miscommunication. With such fragmented means of communication, this leaves few people with full awareness of the latest information, when updates have been made, or when changes have been requested, all of which can harm a project.

How to untangle lines of communication with Scoro

Projects often fail because there’s no single, reliable method of communication for project stakeholders. That’s what Scoro does for you. It becomes a single source of truth for all of your project information.

It connects projects, teams, team members, clients, and contractors and creates an auditable communication trail that’s always up-to-date. That enables collaborative teams to work together more efficiently and make better decisions based on the latest information.

5. You’re Ignoring the Big Picture

With so many project management pitfalls just waiting to trip you up, it’s not surprising that many project managers end up micromanaging every detail of a project themselves. However, rather than keeping the project on track, trying to maintain control of every aspect of the project can cause them to lose sight of the bigger picture. The result is that the project loses direction, and the end goals and objectives are missed.

Micromanaging a project can also lead to feelings of frustration and distrust among the project team. That produces unproductive and even obstructive workers and has a dire impact on their performance.

When it comes to project management, there’s a big difference between micromanagement and attention to detail. As a project manager, it is your job to trust the right individuals to carry out the right activities and give them the tools to do a great job.

How to avoid micromanagement with Scoro

Scoro project management software gives you a complete overview of the project in real time, so you never lose track of the bigger picture. You can analyze processes, monitor risk areas, and create high-level reports in a single click.

Importantly, you are also able to plan and prioritize your team’s work and track real-time progress. That, along with automatic notifications and deadline alerts, helps keep you in the know without having to micromanage your team.

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How technology can help avoid project failure

As we have seen, there are many reasons why projects fail, and in this article, we are only scratching the surface. However, while many of these project management pitfalls have been around for years, the influx of new technology has given us a range of new ways to solve them.

Project management software like Scoro can help you avoid project management problems by streamlining communication, providing real-time visibility, and keeping the project’s goals in focus.

To take control of your projects, sign up today to start your free 14-day trial.

Liis Milk

Liis Milk is the Content Marketing Specialist at Scoro. From research to clever writing, she cares about creating engaging content. Best described as a photo enthusiast and a word nerd, she gets inspired by nature and books. Never says no to good conversation, sports and traveling.

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