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5 Project Management Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Accomplishing your organization’s strategic goals requires more than just having the right team and utilizing the best techniques. Proper management and implementation must be in place to maximize all resources and ensure all objectives are met. While project management works differently for every organization, there are a few practices and methods that every project team must avoid to ensure seamless project completion.

Here are five common project management mistakes:

1. Not having clear project team assignments. 

Workforce Strategy and Planning Manager Mr. Robbie Charles J. Sia said every project requires a team of people to focus on achieving the project’s objective. It is usually composed of resource persons from different departments or units. 

Commonly, a project team is composed of the following:

  • Sponsor – Has financial authority and influence on all project 
  • Steering Committee – An advisory body with a significant stake in the project
  • Project Manager – Responsible for the approval of project initiation and planning, execution of the agreed objectives, and closure of the project within the specified timeline
  • Project Q/A Reviewer – Someone who might have done a similar project before and serves as a quality assurance person
  • Project Members – Composed of experts. i.e., Project Team Leads, Engineering, etc., that may also have their own team members

Not only does having clear project team assignments clarify each member’s roles, but it also avoids confusion and disarrangement regarding responsibilities. As an example, Mr. Sia clarified that while the title “manager” bears a heavy responsibility in the decision-making process, the other members of the team must also play an active role.

“A lot of project managers think they own the world. Share the accountability among your team members, [and] among your steering committee. It is not the job of the project manager to decide but to recommend and loop in your steering committee and sponsors accountable because you can see an overall direction of the project,” he said. 

2. Being unable to identify risks beforehand.

A risk is an uncertain event that might or might not occur as you execute your project. According to Mr. Sia, there are three ways to address risks once encountered. 

The first option is to accept, allowing the risk to happen, and react as your project team sees fit. The second option is to transfer, which suggests looking for other possibilities of addressing the risk through other resources. And finally, your team may also choose to mitigate, which means finding a way to reduce the probability or impact of the identified risk.

In the Philippines, the project management expert said that risks could often be organic in nature, particularly calamities, which result in delays in deliveries, restrictions, and medical emergencies, among others. He advised that risks can be anticipated regardless and to identify two to three risks your team can encounter.

A lot of project managers think they own the world. Share the accountability among your team members, [and] among your steering committee.
— Mr. Robbie Sia

3. Allowing the project the go off course due to lack of monitoring.

Monitoring your project means looking at all the concerning aspects, namely the budget, progress, schedule, and metrics, to ensure that the project is on track. Oftentimes, organizations fail to communicate the status of their projects to their stakeholders. Mr. Sia advised regular steering committee meetings where your project team gets to share the progress, ask for decisions and guidance, and communicate changes. 

Also behind every project’s success is its quality. After all, the objective is not to solely accomplish a goal but make a lasting impact on the organization and the community. According to Mr. Sia, quality should be embedded in all aspects to avoid rework and additional costs. Quality management assures not only the quality of the deliverables but also the quality of the processes and practices used by the team.

One of the most common frameworks for implementing continuous improvement is the Deming Cycle, popularly known as Plan-Do-Check-Act (PCDA):

  • Plan – Identifying a goal or purpose, formulating a theory, identifying success metrics, and putting a plan into action
  • Do – Components of the plan are implemented or tested
  • Check – Outcomes are monitored to test the plan’s validity for signs of progress and success or problems and areas for improvement
  • Act – Integrating the learning generated by the entire process can be used to adjust the goal, change methods, reformulate a theory altogether, or broaden the learning

4. Not knowing the three constraints in project management.

The three constraints in project management are cost, time, and scope, which all or individually can limit what your project team must accomplish. Costs refer to the budget allocated for your project; scope refers to the inclusions and exclusions, deliverables, and limitations; while time refers to the project phasing.

When none of the three constraints can be managed, Mr. Sia advised trying to change or cancel the project if the quality is at risk.

“If no part of the constraints doesn’t want to move, your job and managerial courage go into play. Kailangan niyong sabihin na i-cancel na ‘yan. That’s also project management: that you are managing the cost, time, and scope of things you are doing,” Mr. Sia said.

If no part of the constraints doesn’t want to move, your job and managerial courage go into play.
— Mr. Robbie Sia

5. Forgetting to conduct project closure.

Project closure is the last and most crucial part of project management and is often the most forgotten. As you reach the end of the project, gauging how it faired with the commitments and results is formally accepted by your stakeholders.

According to Mr. Sia, the following practices have to be performed during the project closure: 

  • Deliver the product/output.
  • Final version of the business case and other documents (architecture, training materials, guides, etc.) are delivered.
  • Open actions and issues are closed or agreed to be handed over to operations.
  • Document Lessons Learned for the basis of the following projects.
  • Project Closure Meeting to present results to stakeholders and accepted.

“In your last steering committee meeting, pakita niyo na lahat ng nangyari. Then, you have a report that summarizes what happened, [a] maximum of two pages.”


Need to improve your organization’s capacity to reach objectives and goals faster? We at ISA offer the Skills Lab, a capacity development program designed to empower organizations by enhancing diverse skills unique to any organization’s needs to achieve long-term sustainability and success. A Skills Lab course on Project Management is happening this September 14, 2022! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact Kristine Roraldo at [email protected]

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