Top 10 Common PM Mistakes

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Most project management mistakes come down to poor planning and communication. While these mistakes are common, they can be avoided. The following list of the Top 10 Common PM Mistakes should help you identify where your project weaknesses are and what you can do to address them. Not only will you improve your project success rate, but you’ll also improve satisfaction among all involved members.

Mistake #1: Lack of the right resources and skills

Result: Proper project staffing is important. While you may be tempted to hire an entry or junior-level contractor to ease up on costs, the time spent in training and managing mistakes can eat your budget.

Solution: Hire well. You want a strong staff.

Mistake #2: Inexperienced project managers

Result: Projects can quickly grow out of control without a keen PM.

Solution: Hire certified PMs with both soft skills and technical expertise to handle IT and business staff.

Mistake #3: Constrained IT from too much process.


Solution: Maintain flexibility

Mistake #4: No tracking of changes to the scope of work

Result: Unpleasant surprise in budget and timeline.

Solution: Use of a formal change request process keeps everyone and everything in line. Explain all specific changes and determine how it will impact the budget and timeline.

Mistake #5: Lack of live data about the status of projects

Result: We’re human and it’s very easy to lose track of things.

Solution: Reliable PM Software.

Mistake #6: Ignoring problems

Result: Problems are like weeds—they show up from nowhere, take root, and invade your harvest. The longer you ignore them, the longer it’ll take to uproot everything.

Solution: Fess up early, fix quickly.

Mistake #7: People forget that the world is NOT perfect

Result: Freezes with sudden challenges and issues.

Solution: Perform a risk assessment as part of the project planning. This not only prepares you for a “battle,” but also helps you identify the vulnerable areas of the project.

Mistake #8: Project schedules are incomplete

Result: Project team members forget the due dates of items, which may very well lead to a failure to meet the project deadline.

Solution: Document a detailed Scope of Work with a number of hours and due dates for each activity. PM software greatly assists in creating schedules and tracking work progress.

Mistake #9: IT goes along with unreasonable deadlines

Result: From the client’s perspective, IT under-delivers over-time.

Solution: IT management must explain clearly the need for the stated time to meet all objectives—and stick with it. If the client still demands an earlier date of completion, he will have to pay more for the additional resources needed to cover for time.

Mistake #10: Generic documentation of needs, assumptions, and deliverables

Result: Unsatisfied client upon delivery of finished project.

Solution: Start off on the right foot. You want to start strong with a shared roadmap to a solution. In PM, the first step is the paper agreement between you and the client. This contract states the client’s needs, and outlines what changes you’ll make to achieve a desirable solution. Be sure to document mutual understanding, mutual agreement, mutual assumptions, and mutual expectations.