The primary objective of running project management is to achieve project success. As other things your projects are also bound to have challenges whether you like it or not.
The entire thing rests on your ability to proactively assess probable challenges and account for them right from the project inception.
Sure, this takes time and experience to get good at it.
But let us get you a head start with some of the most common project management challenges that we can mitigate with careful planning.
Take an example of your last product or website development project and work backwards in terms of the challenges faced by the developers, designers and you as an IT Project Manager.
Client Requirement — A one-liner email or discussion point
Any IT Project Manager or digital agency would agree to the fact that this by far the most frequent challenge they come across.
Having said that, it also makes it interesting enough and opens up quite a big opportunity too.
One, you get an opening into helping the user map out his requirements, educate him and thereby build trust initially which goes a long way during the course of the project.
And two, you get to demonstrate your expertise and up-sell, cross-sell too which means additional revenue.
At the same time this can be very frustrating when the client is unsure of what he wants, what are his goals and the vision of the final outcomes.
This can almost kill your project even before it starts.
It is important that you help your client
· finalize his requirements
· identify pending information gaps
· walk him through a process of how the engagement would work
· define important milestones
· segregate relevant tasks
By doing this, you reduce the ambiguity quotient of the project, have a great scope to work with and obtain sign-off.
It is also advisable that the commercials are well laid out majorly in terms of how to handle the in-scope and out of scope items, revisions etc.
Laying a transparent and robust foundation around deliverables and timelines is crucial to the success of the engagement.
Ever changing Requirements
Now, this one is a true bummer! Everyone hates it!
It is understood that scope revisions will always happen. But being the experts, it’s our job to ensure these are reduced to the minimum or are rare.
One needs to be fairly proactive to assess how the project will be run right from the initial customer interactions.
When you see that the client may not have clear answers until certain aspects are achieved or it is evident they are going to have evolving changes the scope must accommodate this fact.
You must define clear steps on how requirement changes and ad-hoc requests would be accepted and the costs associated with them.
Have a formal change request process defined within your scope or contract to handle such requests once your project is in-flight.
Irrespective of that, repeated urgent requests pop-up and throw your project off-track.
The team gets distracted too frequently and the project deliverables, quality and timelines are negatively impacted.
Moreover, it becomes a challenge to stay focused and keep these deliverables aligned to the primary objective of the project as the new requests may not be in sync.
Hence, a greater risk to the overall stakeholder expectation management and project success.
This is where your change process comes in handy.
It will put the onus on the customer to
· be more judicious towards the ad hoc requests
· take a holistic view of “must have” and “good to have” items
· do a time and cost benefit analysis of the requested changes
· discourage requests based on whims of their internal teams
· stay aligned with the primary project objective
You stand to gain from the clarity and professionalism maintained here. There is no room for heresy or dispute.
All in all, you get to win the customer’s confidence, maintain project momentum and deliver with quality.
Not obtaining timely or no feedback at all
You got the scope finalized, signed the contract and took off with the project. Great!
But how about maintaining consistent customer engagement? How do you do that?
“Most development projects are delayed, need remediation, executive intervention or simply put in the ice box due to lack of timely and enough customer feedback.”
And before that, the most concerning part is where the team loses sight of the original requirements, get driven by ambition and develop more than asked. The inverse is true too!