Project Manager is an expert whose main task is, essentially, to manage the project as a whole: designing, prioritizing and scheduling tasks, monitoring workflow, adjusting communication, and promptly solving problems – all these, among others, are PM’s responsibilities. In simple words, a good specialist should be able to deal with project management and planning on all the dedicated stages.
The types of tasks the project manager handles can be classified in the following manner:
From yet another perspective, PMs work can also be subdivided into 3 groups:
The main mission statement for this specialist: “We need this to work,” which means that the team, eventually, delivers the result within the reasonable terms with a high level of quality. A good PM values time, is a good analyst, a psychologist, a leader. They are energetic, positive, and do not panic. Instead of excuses, they look for ways to solve problems. Also, they are politically correct, understand strategy and tactics.
In the article, we are going to discuss some project management problems and how to solve them so to make it clear how a good PM should perform.
Regardless of their experience, people tend to make mistakes, and no one is immune. We have created a list of the main project management mistakes. Based on these errors, “bad advice” does not claim to be exclusive, and does not cover all situations that may happen to you, but is definitely on the list of the most common ones. You should not follow these tips, but, as they say, warned – means armed!
How often have you come across a situation where solving a problem, you and the client reach a mutual decision with a half-word, but as the whole development cycle comes to an end and the results are presented, the client says that they meant something else? This is one of the most important moments – most of the overlays and misunderstandings arise precisely because of the poor communication in project management. Your client is not you, and their views even on simple common things can be very different from yours.
In this case, the cause of common project problems can be not so much malicious intent as elementary human forgetfulness. The client can simply not remember what they promised when talking to you, and you can not prove to them that they violated any of the verbal agreements.
Getting a task that is described in common phrases may lead to its incorrect or partially incorrect completion. As a result, it causes a lot of difficulties and later requires even more work than it was planned from the very beginning.
When you have established a contact with the client, you can easily accept their entreaties to handle some additional tasks. As a result, your developer spends much more time working on the project and should, formally, be paid more. Finally, everything is finished and you begin to discuss with the client the additional work that should be paid separately. Instead, they inhibit the process of approval and payment. It happens because you didn’t inform the client beforehand that the added task would require an extra payment.
You have collected all the information on the task, formalized it neatly in a task-tracker, sent a task link to the developer, specified the terms, and got a clear “Understood” in response. The day for checking the results on the task is suitable, and you, full of confidence that everything is going according to the plan, ask the developer when will they give you the result. And in return, you get that nothing is ready yet. As a result, the project isn’t finished in time.
Prolonged silence and ignoring customer requests can lead to their completely losing trust in you. You should always stay in touch because only through you the client is able to monitor the development process.
You call up a client developer to solve a technical issue, but after listening to their answer and passing on the message to your employees, do not be surprised if, in the end, what you said can be misinterpreted. In this case, a lot of time can go into the comprehension of details, which in itself delays the development process.
You can have negative consequences when the client manager starts communicating with your employees directly exposing them to various edits and tasks without notifying you about it. After all, you should clearly understand that any statement of tasks should go through you because it is you who are responsible for evaluating the task and the priority of its implementation.
Very often situations arise when the API provided by the client works differently than stated in the documentation. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the IT department of the client cannot make any changes on its part in the case of force majeure. And you put on your team all the hardships of adjusting the functionality to the working state.
You contact a specialist exclusively through Skype while they for some reason constantly use the invisibility mode, and you have no idea whether they received your message and will answer it or not. As a result, you cannot be sure if the task can be done in time.
The situation must be painfully familiar. The client asks you to send an application-related text file, which they gave you back on the stage of writing task description in order to make edits. You spend an hour to find this file because all the materials on the project are stored haphazardly or in general as attachments to your business correspondence.
As a bonus, it should be mentioned that the work of the PM is in communication with developers and customers, which is one of the main project manager problems. And people, as you know, are different, with special requests and manners of communication. If you are too emotional while communicating with your team and clients, it may cause conflicts and inconveniences.
As you may have already understood, the project manager is susceptible to making many different mistakes, but our task here is not to determine what mistakes can be made but rather to decide how to avoid them.
First, do not be afraid to appear meticulous and speak out all the details and aspects of the questions to be solved in order to avoid misunderstanding and the notion “this goes without saying”. The earlier you do this, the less likely it is that you will have to redo this work all at your expense.
Do not forget that one of the main and first steps after meeting with the client, communicating via Skype and telephone conversations, is a summary description of the decisions taken during the discussion with the dispatch to each participant of the meeting. Very often, clients send some new corrections or clarifications that they forgot about in the conversation, just after such a mailing.
Any work not previously described in the task must be demonstrated to the respective employees for evaluation, and its cost must then be approved by the customer. It is necessary to receive a written confirmation from the client where they clearly mention that they agree with the amount.
However difficult it may be, you must always be up to things and interested in the progress of tasks. If the developers (or other employees) consider your inquiries overly intrusive, employ the regular meetings. Let it be stand-up rallies in the morning or coffee breaks during lunch. In any case, every day you should know what is happening with the project.
It’s all in the timing so it is important to be in touch with the client so you can fulfill all the stages of the project and make necessary changes in time. Offer your client a few ways to stay in touch and make sure that the client can contact you anytime there is a necessity.
First of all, you need to adjust to the schedule of your client’s work. It is very important to discuss the issue of the schedule with the client or his/her contact person and agree on the optimal time when you can solve operational issues.
In order to not create the effect of a “spoiled phone” in difficult situations, organize Skype or phone conferences where technical specialists from your side and from the client’s can communicate with each other directly and solve the task much faster.
At the time when the problem is identified, it is very important to find the right compromise solution which allows solving the problem in the shortest possible terms. Just like you, the client is obliged to take part in solving the problem. So, it is not the best way to charge all the hardships of solving the problem on your team-members only.
Very often a situation arises where the person you need to communicate with does not use the same communication services you use. Therefore, before starting the development process, it is important to agree on how you will communicate so that the solution of the certain issues will not be delayed.
Whatever happens, always try to keep cool and calm in conversation. A polite manner of communication should be your business card. Never be rude to the client because rudeness and neglect are the first steps to losing credibility, even if you do your job best.
We have already discussed how to prevent the appearance of the problems described above, but what if the moment is missed and, because of the poor project management, the difficulties have already started coming in the way?
The most important thing is not to panic. First of all, analyze the current situation, discuss the problem with your team and the client. After you have identified the problem and its causes, you need to plan how to solve the situation. At this stage, it is extremely important to discuss everything with your team in order to determine how long it can take to solve the problem. Do not forget that it is in your own interest to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
After you have developed a plan, determined the terms, it is necessary to discuss everything with the client. It is important to understand that the plan and deadlines suit both you and your client.
Another important aspect of this situation is to maintain the client’s trust. If you have already made a mistake, you must inform the client that this situation will not happen again and you are ready to quickly correct your mistakes. In some cases, it is worth offering a kind of compensation for the client. Perhaps, it will be some bonuses or discounts, but before making such a decision, it is worth discussing it with the team and finding an option that will suit you and the client the best.
Of course, any problem can be solved, but remember that it is much easier to avoid it, so carefully monitor all the work processes and you may as well not need to look for any solutions whatsoever.
Concluding our discussion of the project management problems and solutions, it is clear that choosing the good, professional PM is very important. If you don’t know where to find a trustworthy project manager yourself – the best option would be to turn to the project management companies.
There is a great number of companies that offer a project management support so it’s up to which one to choose, but pay attention to their portfolio.
One of the largest companies in the niche is Bates. It offers a number of IT services, including project management. Another similar company is Europtima CEE, which is located in Poland. Among the Ukrainian companies – SGS and Sloboda Studio must be mentioned. In particular, the latter has a great experience in project management and offers good experts that will lead and support your project from the very beginning, until the moment it is successfully finished.