Four biggest project team mistakes

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By guest blogger Brad Egeland.

Whenever you get a team together, you have to watch for things falling through the cracks that could disrupt whatever you’re working on.  And for a project, that could mean costly and timely errors and potentially a failed project. No one wants that. Communication and consistency are key and as I always drive home…all of that is still the ultimate responsibility of the project manager. 

That said, I’d like to present what I consider to be four of the biggest mistakes that project managers and their teams can make while executing on a project engagement that can cause major problems on the project. I welcome your thoughts on this list – as well as additions to it – after you’ve read through it.

Assuming everyone is on the same page. The project manager – above everyone else – is responsible for ensuring that everyone is on the same page.  Primarily this is done by staying current on the project schedule and distributing it regularly as well as following up all meetings with notes to ensure that everyone heard things the same and are fully aware of all assignments and decisions that were made.  If there is no follow up and status info like the project schedule is not distributed regularly then one or more team members will soon be out of sync with the rest of the team…and that is a terrible situation to find yourself and team in.

Conducting meetings on an inconsistent schedule. Sticking to a regular meeting schedule with the project team is critical. An inconsistent meeting schedule and frequent cancellations lead to poorly attended meetings, poor communication and transfer of information and issues potentially falling through the cracks.  You don’t want to be that project manager who is known for bad meetings and cancelled meetings.  Yours will be the meetings that stakeholders skip if they are busy or have a conflict in their schedule.  No, you want yours to be the go-to, must-attend meeting of the day or week.  So always be well prepared with an agenda sent out in advance, stick to the proposed meeting start and end time, and stay on topic.  I promise your participation will be high if you do this.

project-management-toolboxNot using a collaborative tool. Collaboration is extremely helpful for keeping the team in sync and it can help reduce the overall time required of the project manager to keep everyone up to date and on the same page.  Using a good, collaborative project management tool can definitely help to alleviate this potential problem on your projects. With the number of tools available now – both desktop and web-based – there is no excuse for not finding one that fits your project needs.

Succumbing to group think. Finally, succumbing to group think can result in big problems for your project. Everyone on the team needs an equal opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns. One suppressed concern can lead to a potential risk not being examined and finally to the ugly outcome of sensitive data being lost or hacked due to buggy or non-secure software. An oversight like this could cost in the millions of dollars on the right project. Be sure to explore all thoughts and take them seriously.

Summary / call for input

Teams are great.  No one wants to run a project of significant size and complexity on their own.  But in order to be successful as a team you need to be sure that everyone has an equal voice and that information flows freely, accurately and timely throughout the engagement.

What about our readers?  What thoughts do you have on teamwork?  What areas of concern or mistakes have you seen that you can share and discuss?

brad-egelandBrad Egeland is a consultant and author with over 25 years of software development, management, and project management experience leading initiatives in Manufacturing, Government Contracting, Creative Design, Gaming and Hospitality, Retail Operations, Aviation and Airline, Pharmaceutical, Start-ups, Healthcare, Higher Education, Non-profit, High-Tech, Engineering and general IT. He is married, a father of 11, and living in sunny Las Vegas, NV. Visit Brad’s project management blog.

 

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Comments

  1. Cathy Cockrell says

    I definitely agree with the first point – assuming everyone is on the same page. Most of the issues that I see have to with failing to keep the functional managers of project team members up to date on status. These issues arise from power and territory struggles. I would love to hear your thoughts on these types of power struggles in a matrix team. Thanks!

  2. Shelley J. Horwitz says

    The aren’t even close to being in the top 100 “biggest project team mistakes!!!”

    If you want a better list, here are my top four bullets.

    1. Not having a clear agreement with project owners and stakeholders about the Method of Approach (how you’re gonna do it); Statement of Work (what you’re gonna do); and deliverables (what’s gonna be produced and delivered when the project is done.

    All the hogwash in this article is just project-babble from too many “Project Management” seminars and webinars, and discussions ad nauseum about the difference and efficacy of Agile vs. Waterfall!!!

    2. Not having a clear, concise, and reasonably clear statement of requirements.

    3. Not having a plan for completing the work necessary to accomplish #1.

    4. Not having any concept of risks involved in the project and contingency plans for dealing with those risks.

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