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Project Management Planning Pitfalls to Avoid (#2 in the series How to Plan and Organize a Project)
By Michael D. Taylor

As with other aspects of managing projects, there are common pitfalls to avoid. Unless they are understood, the project manager may wander into crisis management.

  • Planning a project without a project charter.
  • Planning the project hastily.
  • The “Thorndike effect.”1
  • Neglecting to include project risk mitigations in the schedule and budget.
  • Not giving schedule/cost estimates a “sanity check.”
  • Not building margins into the planning.
  • Neglecting to get sponsor/customer approval of the project management plan.

1Thorndike put forth the theory that the greater the satisfaction or discomfort, the greater the strengthening or weakening of the bond. To project managers this often means trying to do everything by themselves, because that’s what made them successful in the past. Source: Edward L. Thorndike, “The Psychology of Wants, Interests, and Attitudes,” 1935. Appleton-Century, New York.

MICHAEL D. TAYLOR, M.S. in systems management, B.S. in electrical engineering, has more than 30 years of project, outsourcing, and engineering experience. He is principal of Systems Management Services, and has conducted project management training at the University of California, Santa Cruz Extension in their PPM Certificate program for over 13 years, and at companies such as Sun Microsystems, GTE, Siemens, TRW, Loral, Santa Clara Valley Water District, and Inprise. He also taught courses in the UCSC Extension Leadership and Management Program (LAMP), and was a guest speaker at the 2001 Santa Cruz Technology Symposium. His website is www.projectmgt.com.

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