Home » Challenges Faced in Project Management and How to Overcome Them

Challenges Faced in Project Management and How to Overcome Them

Being a Project Manager is not an easy job. There are many challenges for anyone who enters the field, whether they are a beginner or a person with experience, would face. A career as a Project Manager would require you to stay on your feet and learn the Project Management basics. The primary role of a Project Manager would be to ensure that the project constraints such as time, project scope, and budget are managed efficiently and the project runs smoothly. A study published in the Harvard Business Review shows that one in every six projects exceeds the estimated budget amount by more than 200 percent and almost 70% of the IT sectors face project delays because the project was not managed properly. 

There are many Project Management tools and training materials that a professional can use to tackle the issues generated during the process, however, if the Project Manager is not aware of it and does not use it in the right context, companies lose millions of dollars every year. Hence, tackling the Project Management problems and Project Management challenges are the prime areas of focus of a Project Manager. This article intends to highlight the problems faced by a team during the project process and answers the question about how to overcome challenges in Project Management. 

Project Management Challenges

Challenge #1: Scope Creep

Scope creep is defined as changes and uncontrolled or continuous growth that occurs during a project’s scope. It occurs when the stakeholders do not know what they want from the project and tend to keep changing the requirements of the project at any point during the process. It is an expected and natural phenomenon that may be beneficial but is most harmful to the Project Management team. Client’s who do not know what they want from the project and give vague requirements are one of the biggest Project Management challenges for both the team and the managers. The “I’ll know what to expect when I get there” mentality of the client would probably do more harm than good. Hence, causing added costs and delayed deliveries of the project.

How to overcome it?
You have to make a clear schedule such that every step of the project is outlined. When you make this outline, you have to make sure that everyone is on the same page about what are the requirements for the project. As a Project Manager, you have to determine the project goals accurately, which would include goals on schedule, quality, and costs. This should be done systematically using proper planning and considering the customer’s needs. You should always keep a check on the availability of resources and do not overestimate them. Setting realistic deadlines and achieving quality results are also a priority during project development. You cannot fully avoid scope creep, but you can always document what is happening in the project and communicate the challenges of the team, and the stakeholders.

Challenge #2: Poorly Defined Objectives and Goals

When your project does not have a definite goal, no one would understand what they have to achieve which would lead to miscommunication, and project failure. Defining the goals and objectives of the project becomes one of the most important projects management challenges. The team members and the manager may not be working for the same goal. Their expectations for the project may be different when the objective of the project is unclear. Such a project is doomed to fail as no one knows whats, whys, and when the project. There would be a lot of confusion and chaos during the project development process.

How to overcome it?
Always start the meeting by making the objective and goals of the project very clear. Everyone in the room should understand what they will be working towards and what difference would they make in the process of the project. When you propose, there should be an objective for the project as to what it plans to achieve. When the objectives are clear, the team will also understand the whys, whats, and hows of the project planning process. Use project planning software to define clear goals and always get the feedback of the stakeholders and the team members whether they understood the purpose of developing the project.

Challenge #3: Team Skills are Inadequate

If a project has to be successful, all the tasks involved in the project have to be done by team members who are skilled at that specific task. Individual skills of the team members contribute to the overall effectiveness and value of the project. As a Project Manager, you can create an environment for the team where they can learn more skills and master them. However, this is easier said than done as few skills need years of training and experience. If you have a team that is not skillful enough to perform the few tasks of the project, the development of the project would be at stake. Everyone in the team should be equally skillful and should complement the skills such that tasks could be assigned based on availability and not on expertise.

How to overcome it?
When you are taking up a project, you should begin by assessing the tasks involved in the project. There would always be a core set of skills that are necessary for the project to flourish, these skills could be coding, knowing specific programming languages, marketing, or any skill based on the project. After listing the required skills for the project, the management has to assess the list of skills, the strength, and weaknesses, of the present workforce. And by comparing both, they could analyze whether they require a new team member who can fulfill the requirement of the project by possessing the required skills. They could also hold a few workshops and seminars for the present team members to learn new skills and overcome their weaknesses, thereby making the team stronger to deal with complex problems.

Challenge #4: Ineffective communication

Handling a project is not a single person’s work; it requires immense collaboration and coordination from all the members involved in the process. Any project to be successful should have effective communication during the process of project development. Lack of communication is one of the biggest challenges in the project planning process which has to be resolved for the project to become a success. The Project Manager must have timely and transparent methods of communication so that all the stakeholders and the team members understand how the project is progressing. Miscommunication would also lead to a lack of productivity as the team members may work on tasks that are unnecessary and hence end up wasting more time that could be used to work on the necessary tasks. Another challenge faced during project implementation is that miscommunication leads to conflicts between the team members which can cause a delay in the project delivery and also reduce the quality of work.

How to overcome it?
Project Managers are advised to use various collaborative Project Management software which can easily ensure that everyone is on the same page. This software can be used to make the tasks of the team members transparent and helps them manage everyone’s duties with lesser effort. Using the software would help in reducing the issue of accountability as it would clearly state the tasks and the person associated with them. Hence, the person responsible for a specific task cannot play the blame game and would have to take responsibility for their work. This promotes accountability and also the issues of miscommunication can be resolved easily. Also, having regular stand-up meetings would make everyone’s tasks clear and would go a long way to prevent miscommunication.

Challenge #5: Unrealistic Deadlines

Imposing realistic deadlines is as important as allocating the right work to the right people. When you expect too much work in a short period, the team members do not put much effort as they know that it is not possible to achieve the target in the given amount of time. Clients may expect you to perform wonders and set unrealistic expectations from the team. But the Project Manager has to negotiate the expectations with the stakeholders and the clients. With increasing competition in the respective fields, team members are always subjected to unrealistic expectations and are often forced to meet unachievable targets.

How to overcome it?
You have to involve the team member’s opinions whenever you are setting deadlines. First talk to the clients or the manager about the factors that influence the deadline such as market launch, etc. List out all the factors that affect the deadline and negotiate a proper deadline that would be suitable for both the clients and the team members. Proper communication, alternative analysis, and project deadlines are the key factors that influence a proper Project Management process. Always plan and manage your schedule for the events that are going to occur and keep a track of the important dates with the help of a project calendar.

Challenge #6: Managing Budgets

Financial issues are one of the biggest challenges faced by Project Managers for conducting effective Project Management. When a proper budget range is not proposed by considering all the factors that could affect the cost, over budgeting may occur. A Project Manager has to take into consideration several factors such as risks, inflation, etc and should give a range of costs for manufacturing, labor, transportation, administration expenses, sales, legal expenses, etc. Efficient cost management would help the organization to avoid various common complications that a project faces which helps it to achieve better and quicker results.

How to overcome it?
A proper budgeting procedure should be one of the most important factors that any Project Manager should consider before the project begins. When a realistic cost estimate is set during the project planning, it avoids many cost overruns and the scope of the project can be estimated effectively. Whenever any decision is done regarding the project, the budget should always be kept in mind. Limited budgets with high-cost expenses for project completion is one of the prime reasons for a project failure. Documenting the budgets in Project Management is an essential process for project success.

Challenge #7: Lack of Risk Management

Every project has its benefits and risks. While everyone would want to focus more on the benefits of the project which may be in terms of revenue, a Project Manager should also consider the risks that involve in the project which may lead to project failure. A Project Manager should have a foresight of what may happen to the projects when certain circumstances arise. They have to be prepared for such scenarios and have a contingency plan ready to tackle such scenarios. This could be budget problems, conflicts in team members, market fluctuations, client expectations, etc. Not every project will go exactly as planned as there are many variables along the way of development.

How to overcome it?
Always have alternate plans which the team will adapt when things are not going the way the project was planned. A project risk management system is recommended to all the team as it helps in recognizing the risks and resolving them. A contingency plan should always be in place when things go critical. This plan would identify all the risks along with the course of action which will be taken when the risks turn into issues.

Conclusion

Every project has challenges and inconsistencies. Generally, the most common challenges are the ones mentioned above. You cannot expect everything in the project to go according to what you have planned. There would always be some issues or impediments that would stand in the way of your project. But as an effective Project Manager, you must analyze and understand the challenges and adequately overcome them. Before you take up any project, always analyze the challenges that you would face from the project and have a backup plan ready to tackle those challenges. When you resolve all the current issues of Project Management and overcome whatever challenges you face, your team is sure to succeed in their project.