Balancing elements within a large-scale (or even small-scale) project takes skill and a whole lot of perspective. Success doesn’t just take place overnight and can easily be derailed by the most minute details – causing delays, extra cost, and a whole lot of risk.
Preparing for the unexpected, and actively working to be more aware of possible downfalls, will equip your team to be better situated for project success and more aware of changes for the future. Some of the common downfalls found in failed projects include lack of scope & structure, weak resource management, poor communication and lack of trust.
Lack of Plan and Scope
As the famous saying goes, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Discovery and appropriate goal setting is an absolute necessity to a successful project. When managers miss establishing clear guidelines and purpose behind a project, the likelihood of scope creep is inevitable.
A good project team will work actively to identify purpose, goals, strategy, timeline, budget and complete audits up front in order to avoid veering outside intended plans. To be sure wandering doesn’t take place over time, set aside moments to revisit defined plans and bring people back to the basics.
Weak Resource Administration
It’s easy to get lost in the details of enough computers, meeting space, hours in the day, equipment, etc. What managers often forget to address when establishing the plans upfront are the people handling the work.
Managers shouldn’t just pick a large team to carry out the work, but rather, a strategic team. Take a look at the tasks and think carefully over the desired outcome of the project. Who will best seek to accomplish this section of the project? Who is able to give dedicated time to our problem solving? Do we have the right team to handle this new line of work for our growing business? These are all important questions that should be asked. Lay out your resource schedule and, if you know the addition is success-minded, be willing to bring on skilled workers to manage project scope.
Teams that communicate cryptically and infrequently will not function at the same level as those who prioritize discussion and collaboration. When communication is diminished, mistakes will increase. Teams need to fight against the urge to handle responsibilities alone and seek to work together to answer tough questions and stick to project plans.
Managers who sit over project teams also need to establish regular team touchpoints and work zones so that communication can flow uninhibited. Encourage collaboration and shared responsibility so that teams actively seek and share advice between each other. Be certain you are as transparent as possible on roles and outcomes. Tasks that are undefined or left open-ended will be quickly passed over and left to handle down the road, or… never.
Lack of Trust
You heard it all the time growing up, “It’s not all about you”. Managers would be wise to heed this age-old reminder. Control is an understandable feeling when you are responsible for overseeing project work, but seek to delegate responsibilities instead of holding them close to your chest. Project success is often a reflection of the workers behind a project and not simply the leader.
Don’t micromanage your team members. Asking for review and approval on every single item only increases stress and fear of being berated. Trust them to make smart choices and allow them to learn from their mistakes. Chances are, they will improve when assigned to projects down the road. Give workers plenty of room to breathe and time to problem solve before checking in on their work.