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In Part 1 of our Project Management Series, we discussed how Choosing the Right PM Will Make or Break Your Project. Now that you know what to look for in a project manager, here are 10 things you need to beware of as you work with the PM on planning and early-stage development—10 things that could bring your project to a screeching halt.
- Insufficient requirements gathering. If this isn’t the #1 concern of your project manager early on, you should be more than a little bit wary. The solution is only going to be successful if it fulfills the needs of all of the users.
- Weak requirements definition. If you’ve addressed number 1, then you need to beware of this one next. Look for measurable, objective terminology that can be tested against. In fact, use the requirements gathering process to rough out the test scenarios.
- Poor documentation. Everything, and we mean everything, should be documented, from project objective to requirements to scope to progress to responsible parties, so teams can refer to these documents in order to stay on track. This doesn’t mean creating a bunch of useless files, folders, shares, etc. Since you have to document all this stuff, be succinct and organized.
- Bad communication. Actually, the lack of Change Management as a whole, but let’s start with bad communication. All of the moving parts and pieces to a project need to be communicated to team members and stakeholders. Start by meeting with the WHOLE team upfront. Then, regularly scheduled check-ins are a must.
- Unrealistic targets. If the four steps above are painstakingly adhered to, you will have better success setting realistic targets for your team, and stakeholders will understand why you need this amount of time and budget. And when things change, as they always do, make sure to update the old targets, which are now unrealistic.
- Inconsistent quality controls. Once you start development, early and frequent prototyping, iterations, and UAT are essential. There is no better way to blow a timeline and budget than delivering the wrong thing when you’re already in the final stages of development. In addition, breaking projects into smaller pieces serves to boost confidence as each milestone is achieved, and prototypes keep stakeholders engaged.
- Scope creep. See #1—insufficient requirements gathering. Thorough discovery early on, along with a solid scope change process, will limit scope creep and keep your schedule and budget in line. When a change is proposed, evaluate the real necessity, assess its impact, document it, and present it to stakeholders with pros and cons.
- A project manager should have a laser-like focus on the project at hand, especially if it is mission-critical. The risks introduced by multitasking well outweigh any benefits gained—and it can be argued that focused PMs actually exhibit increased productivity.
- Making do with the resources at hand. Every organization lacks experienced resources for certain segments of a project, particularly when skillsets are specialized. The learning curve and resultant pitfalls of trying to wing it with what you have rather than outsourcing the task to an expert will sink a project every time.
- Lack of Accountability. Accountability can be ensured by avoiding pitfalls #3—Poor Documentation—by providing teams with clear references for accountability; #4—Bad Communication—specifically, by meeting with the WHOLE team upfront to clarify roles, responsibilities, and deliverables; and #8—Multitasking—by assigning only a 100% dedicated and experienced project manager, and then providing them with the authority to hold people accountable.
Okay—we can hear you—and many of you are saying “that’s just basic stuff.” But I’ll bet those of you saying that are still falling into 5 of these 10 traps. Take the time to seriously review your project management – and fix those 5 things you’re not doing right.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid pitfalls is to know where they are. As we mentioned in our previous article in this Project Management Series, when it comes to technology implementations, learning as you go is a surefire way to blow your budget and miss milestones—and the money you may be trying to save using in-house resources or a rock star project manager who just hasn’t done this particular thing before will be spent many times over during the learning curve. Avout’s certified project managers have hands-on experience in Oracle Applications installations, including cloud transformation. Give us a call at 866-437-3133 to discuss your project management.