One common problem organizations encounter is the existence of multiple concurrent plans for a single project. Between the various cross-functional groups, from accounting to engineering to HR, you may discover there are too many schedules in use. With all these timetables floating around, how can you trust any of the resulting progress estimates? The true status of each activity soon becomes a big question mark. Sound familiar? It’s the “many truths” problem and it could doom your project to failure.
It isn’t uncommon to encounter challenges during a project. Teams may lose a key member, putting additional work on everyone else, or a critical material might suddenly become unavailable. These problems are relatively routine and most PMs have the experience and resources to deal with the issues without derailing their project’s progress.
With numerous stakeholders to support and ambitious corporate goals to achieve, project teams sometimes fall into the trap of over-committing themselves as they try to make everyone happy. Some agree to aggressive schedules in hopes they can shave time off along the way. Others begin projects with a too-lean budget expecting they will somehow keep expenditures below normal levels. In each case, the team usually ends up looking bad in the end, as the project’s target completion date encounters delays and requests for additional funds pile up.
Has your project team ever overcommitted itself? It’s a surprisingly common problem. There are many ways a team can overcommit. Some promise to achieve too much. Others promise to deliver reasonable results on an unrealistic schedule. It’s also possible that a Project Team consistently meets expectations and sticks to the agreed-upon project timeframe, but at costs that exceed the approved budget parameters.
In the early phases of project planning, there are many things the Project Team doesn’t know. But as the process gets underway, the team needs to make it their mission to ensure they get the information they need to understand where risks exist, to determine the most efficient and effective scope and timeline, and to make the best decisions as they move forward. If the data being used by the Project Team is incomplete or inaccurate, the project could go over budget or even fail to achieve its goals.
Every project is comprised of a number of individual tasks. Some tasks can and should be executed simultaneously, and at other times one task must be completed before the next activity can begin. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that can go wrong with these task chains, and the potential for problems grows along with the scope and complexity of the project. For example, the Project Team might not realize that one delayed task doesn’t just impact one other activity, it actually affects the execution plan for many other tasks that are scheduled to happen later in the project.
Several factors can create challenges for manufacturing project teams. For example, among the many concerns for PMs today are unexpected supply chain issues related to ramping up after a prolonged downturn. It can be tremendously difficult to juggle increased manufacturing needs—often with time pressures as primary drivers—against potentially decreased bandwidth across suppliers and producers.
Gaining cooperation across disparate sub-groups is sometimes a difficult task for project managers. Even when everyone agrees they’re on the same page and working toward the same goals, it’s not uncommon to discover that communication channels between the groups are weak and collaboration is lacking. Some departments may have a tough time fully engaging with the effort. Others might try to push their opinions and preferences to the forefront. Participation in meetings and brainstorming sessions is often hit or miss.
In addition to the challenges project managers commonly face, initiatives that revolve around technology—upgrades, expansions, system replacements, etc.—bring their own unique obstacles. These can be especially difficult to navigate when you’re trying to execute a technology-related project in a non-technology organization. If a project that’s heavy on technology is on the horizon for your team, consider where roadblocks are likely to exist and the strategies that can help you overcome them.