Top 10 Project Management Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

Top 10 Project Management Challenges (and How to Overcome Them)

Be it business or social, project management is not simple. A staggering number of projects had failed in organizations. In fact, statistics show that only one in three software projects is truly successful. The other two might succeed – but are exceeding initial budgets or delivered late. Clearly, organizations globally continue struggling to deliver projects that meet all objectives within designated scope, time, and budget, along with achieving stakeholder satisfaction altogether.  

All projects are bearing their own risk. To turn the risk into opportunity, project management is essential. The right mix of planning, organizing, and controlling can make a difference in how project managers complete their tasks with high-quality results. Despite the availability of multiple resources such as project management tools and training materials, organizations are still grappling to tackle the challenges of project management they encounter. So, what are the top 10 challenges of project management?

1. Unclear expectations

If you don’t plan, you don’t succeed. 39% of projects fail due to lack of planning, meaning that aligning vision and stating clear expectations are the first things to achieve before starting a project. 

What to do: Establish a clear project plan and the tools required can help project managers navigate the progress smoothly. A leader also needs to possess high-level planning skills to come up with effective objectives and goals. By setting up milestones and quality tests, project managers can help their team progress and pass the barriers of project management.  

2. Scope creep

Scope creep refers to the changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope, at any point after the project begins. This issue can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. Despite being a common occurrence, scope creep is quite harmful for a project. 

What to do: Prevent scope creep in the first place by preparing a thorough and effective scope of work. When you have validated all requirements and responsibilities for the project, then you can have more confidence in your project’s scope.

3. Insufficient resource

Project performance highly depends on individuals’ skills within it. After all, you need to assemble competent people to bring your project to life. You can create an ideal environment to work, but if your team members do not have what it takes to tackle the project challenges, then your project will be going nowhere. 

What to do: Project managers should identify the skills and competencies needed to carry out the project, then assess whether the available workforce can take the task within a particular time frame or not.

4. Poor communication

Miscommunication threatens teamwork’s stability as it can cause internal conflicts that potentially delays the project delivery. That said, transparent and effective communication is extremely important for a project to succeed.

What to do: Engage your team with concise and regular updates. Project managers can rely on collaborative and project management software now widely available in the market to ensure that everyone stays in the loop. 

5. Risk assessment

Projects rarely stick entirely to initial plans, such that it creates unlimited possibilities. For this reason, recognizing and planning for risk is an essential part of project management. 

What to do: Foreseeing any ‘what if’ scenarios can help managers mitigate and reduce the risk of things being missed during project progress. By having alternate plans, the team can rest assured if the project starts to spiral out of control. 

6. Inaccurate estimates

Estimates are rarely accurate. Deadlines slip for one reason and another, so it is wise to not set overly ambitious deadlines or targets just to make clients happy. 

What to do: Collect all project requirements before the estimating session and discuss them with stakeholders. This way, you and your team will fully understand their nature and potential dependencies. If you need help with the estimates, do not hesitate to ask for input from subject experts so you can create more accurate estimates. The key is to always keep updated with the status of your project all the time.

7. Budgeting issues

Cost overrun is among the biggest challenges in effective project management. It is essential for project managers to know how the project is progressing against the designated budget.  

What to do: Adopt a proper planning procedure and come up with realistic assumptions. By having efficient cost management, leaders can avoid complications and strive for better and quicker results. 

8. No accountability

In order to succeed, you need a team consisting of people who are responsible for what they are doing and working hard to fulfil the role assigned to them. A project manager has to make sure that the team is accountable for their tasks.

What to do: Embrace accountability since the start of a project and build it among team members. Managers should assign responsibility fairly and direct the team towards success.

9. Stakeholder management

It is vital to ensure that all stakeholders share the same vision. Leaving clients in the dark regarding the project’s progress could have serious implications in the final stages of the project.

What to do: Engage and involve the stakeholders actively. You can share with them a project management tool where they can give feedback and get updates in real-time. 

10. Competing priorities 

There are competing agendas because everyone thinks that their requirements should be prioritized. No wonder, project managers often find themselves in competition with other projects from time to time.

What to do: Task prioritization is key. As a manager, you need to be able to set the right priority based on business needs. 

Great project management requires more than keeping the project management’s iron triangle in check, but it should be able to unite both teams and clients, bringing them together to create a vision for a successful project. In other words, a project manager should play the role of a leader for the whole team, not only for the project they are running.