Top 10 Mistakes in Project & Program Management


Top 10 Mistakes in Project Management that cause Project failures & embarassment!!!

Project management is the practice of leading the work of a team to achieve goals and meet success criteria at a specified time. The primary challenge of project management is to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints. This information is usually described in project documentation, created at the beginning of the development process. The primary constraints are scope, time, quality and budget. The secondary challenge is to optimize the allocation of necessary inputs and apply them to meet pre-defined objectives.

Juggling multiple Projects & tasks is everyday life for a Project Manager. Here is a glimpse of Top 10 Mistakes in Project & Program Management that could give you sleepless nights that you can correct in the year to come!!!

# 1st Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – Not Having a Dcoumented Plan of Action

  • As per my experience 20% of the time – The Project Managers did not have a Project Plan and like to have a Plan in their head!!
  • This is a stressful situation for the PM since he is expected to manage more than one project at any given time
  • The plan’s dates consequently cannot be aligned with customers, stakeholders, sponsors and leadership teams

# 2nd Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – Committing I ‘ll try to a scheduling question from Leadership team or the Program Manager

Top 10 Mistakes In Project & Program Management
  • This is the most obvious one! Your sponsor meets you in a lift or near-about your workstation and asks you – Can you do this in 3 months or a quarter? The answer that 90% Project Managers give is “I will try.” This is absolutely wrong approach
  • If you have not looked at the Project Complexity – the critical path then the obvious answer should be – “We are yet to analyze this. I will schedule a call with stakeholders and let you know a detailed plan.”
  • If you have analyzed the critical path – your answer should always be “There are 3(or more) tasks on the critical path. We are working with teams to analyze dependencies and finding out ways how we can crash the Project Timelines. I shall schedule something once a detailed plan is available.”

# 3rd Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – More than one Project Manager – Loosely defined roles

  • No! You are not allowed to have a Project Manager IT, a Project Manager Operations and a Project Manager Sourcing on the same project. There has to be 1 person accountable and that is the one driving the communication plan
  • Program Manager’s must set the boundaries and if the communication plan is being driven by one person then that person has to be the documented Project Manager & one personal accountable for failures

# 4th Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – Not engaging Stakeholders enough

  • Did you engage all department’s enough? This is a question often asked from a Project Manager
  • When you are driving a project where other departments are driving critical and critical path tasks it helps to set up separate calls for all Critical Tasks and Critical Path Tasks – for example separate out your calls with IT, Hiring, Facilities and Training teams {for most projects these are on critical path}
  • Minutes should be captured for all meetings and for Programs you should have a PMO or Project Coordinator document the minutes of the meeting
  • There are a lot of departments on any project and the PM can feel overwhelmed at times!! Have you considered a Program Mentor for your Program?
  • There may be times when stakeholders don’t feel connected to the Project/ Program objective and may miss meetings and communication thus derailing the project. Have you considered an attendance tracker that reports attendance percentage of stakeholders/ departments for driving the Program Objectives

# 5th Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – Not Rebaselining A Project or Rescheduling too late

Overenthusiastic about a particular department’s abilities or Hoping for some sheer luck at the last moment? A delayed task on a critical path is nevertheless a delayed task & has to cause a Rebaselining of the entire Project

# 6th Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – Not Reviewing a Project Management Plan with the Program Manager

  • Yes! The Program Manager often knows relationships between Projects. By not having a review you are exposing yourself to risks and issues to the other Projects & Programs
  • Program Managers – You don’t need a formal meeting to review. Just set up a template and have the Project Manager save the template on a common platform or email
  • Again did you think about assigning a Program Mentor?

# 7th Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – Not having Exclusive Risk Management Meetings

  • Risk Management is a key topic and deserves its own orderly approach to identify, manage and actionables
  • Do you see your stakeholders raising risks via emails or phone calls?
  • Please arrange a formal communication plan for risks

# 8th Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – Not planning resources or task owners

  • So you need time of task owners to successfully lead a project
  • Some task owners may not be able to predict their time for successful task execution
  • It is therefore very important to engage task owners, their leadership teams and their departments eventually and thus to have them defined in the Project Management Plan itself

# 9th Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – No due date in Minutes & other communication


  • As a Project Manager you need commitment from teams to complete the assigned task under stringent deadlines. If due dates are not defined or not stringent enough the priority given to your project tasks changes to task from other critical projects. Thus the PM needs to don a PMO hat and govern the project for completion of individual tasks

# 10th Mistake in our Top 10 Mistakes In Project Management – Not having A Budget & A Contingency Budget

  • Remember if its too easy it is not a Project and certainly not a Program or Portfolio. Always plan a budget for travel, materials, machines etc in case your risks materialize and there is a need to take corrective actions
  • Always plan to have a contingency budget to account for risks, last minute exigencies like strikes and other perils you may have to wade through

Key Takeaways Remember ->CODERS BARD


  • Don’t Commit on timelines. Always present the facts w.r.t Critical Path
  • Ensure One Project Manager
  • Document the Project Plan
  • Engage Your Stakeholders then manage them
  • Always Re-baseline & in-time
  • Schedule Risk Reviews
  • Always plan a Budget and a Contingency Budget
  • Assign Resources
  • Review your Project
  • Assign Due Dates

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