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The Seven Deadly Sins of Project Management
By Michelle Symonds

Forget pride and gluttony, the seven deadly sins for project managers are the ones you should be keeping an eye out for if you don’t want your project to fail. Here they are in all their glory; why not take a moment to decide if you are committing any of these fail-tastic errors:

  1. No project plan: Before you even start thinking about your project, you should have a list of deliverables and a basic task list. From here you can start making your project plan, setting out timescales, starting to estimate budgets and generally getting your head around things. Without a project plan, you are doomed to failure.
  2. No collaboration: You think you’re a rock star project manager? You think you can do it all on your own? If you aren’t collaborating with your team, you are missing out on all sorts of opportunities to solve problems and learn as you go, and are putting another nail in the coffin of project failure right there.

  3. No budget tracking: Who needs to track the budget? After all, you’ll do a budget assessment at the end and if you’ve gone over, well who cares as long as the job got done. Wrong. You need to be tracking expenses and estimating costs from the word go, unless you are keen to see your project go down the drain.

  4. No risk management process: If you’ve done a risk assessment you might think you’ve done enough to keep the risks to the project under control. But without a robust risk management process, you’ll be lost for what to do in order to get them under control if they do occur. You need to maintain a risk log to record all the potential risks, as well as what you are doing about them, if you want to keep your project safe from disaster.

  5. No stakeholder management: Stakeholders come in all shapes and sizes, and some may be more important than others. If you haven’t taken the time to identify each group of stakeholders relating to your project, and put a plan in place for communicating and managing each group, you are sure to neglect some key people, and suffer the consequences.

  6. No file organization system: Project managers have to handle a lot of information. From project documents to copies of emails, contracts to invoices, a well-defined and workable file organization system is critical if you want to be able to find these things again. Leaving things until later to sort, or simply dumping them all in ‘my documents’ is a sure fire way to project disaster.

  7. No change management process: Projects change; it’s a fact of life. Whether it’s the scope, the budget or the requirements of the project that change, you’ll need to include a workable process in your project management framework to ensure you can cope with these changes. Even minor changes can affect multiple areas of the project, so ensure you understand this essential project management skill for identifying and mitigating the knock on effects of changes if you don’t want to trigger a downhill slide.

Michelle Symonds is a qualified PRINCE2 Project Manager and believes that the right project management training can transform a good project manager into a great project manager and is essential for a successful outcome to any project.

There is a wide range of formal and informal training courses now available that include online learning and podcasts as well as more traditional classroom courses from organizations such as Parallel Project Training.

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