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9 IT Project Management Mistakes That Will Sink Your Project : Page 2

If you want to complete your IT projects on time and on budget, avoid these nine IT project management pitfalls at all costs.


PM Pitfall #5. Making Assumptions

We all know the saying, Assuming makes an expletive out of U and Me. So don't assume anything about your project. Walk through the project step by step with your entire team, communicate each step, and get sign-off on each one. Personally, I like to apply a little technology in project meetings by recording the proceedings on my iPhone. Later, I transcribe the meeting notes and email them to everyone included, and in some cases the stakeholders and other business members who were not in attendance.

The point to not assuming anything is that as project managers and team leaders we need to insure that everything is spelled out clearly and concisely for each team member. Before a meeting ends, call out each team member by name and ask the simple question: "Are there any questions or concerns?" Address them and don't assume anything.

PM Pitfall #6. Failing to Follow Up

Often times, weekly or bi-weekly meetings aren't enough to keep the project moving at the most effective pace possible. Using my project management tool, I like to keep each team member's phone number listed next to his or her name. This makes it easy to call them just about once a day to follow-up with them on their status. I also like to walk from office to office with my handy dandy clipboard, poking my head in just to remind everyone of delivery dates and project goals for those team members who are fortunate enough to be in the same building as me.

I've found over the years that most project team members will wait until the day before or even the day of the project meeting before they actually perform their required task. This serious lack in effort leads to shabby workmanship, and this is not to imply that my team is lazy or a bunch of procrastinators. The fact is that each member of the project team, also has a full-time job with plenty of other obligations to meet each day. As project managers, it's up to us to emphasize the priority of their assigned goals and follow up often to insure they are getting done correctly and on-time.

PM Pitfall #7. Allowing Scope Creep

Every single project I've ever worked on suffered from scope creep in one form or another. Remember to define the project specifically with clear goals. Understand the CTQs (Critical To Quality requirements) presented to you by the stakeholders and project champions and stay on target.

PM Pitfall #8. Having No Pilot Phase

My business' quality master black-belt has been in the business for over 20 years. He's very successful and very well respected. He knows what he's talking about, and he always says: "Pilot your project like you want it to fail." Pick the worst-case scenarios, pilot the project, and don't be afraid to pull the plug when the it fails.

PM Pitfall #9. Having Incomplete Sign-off

I handle the project sign-off as if I'm preparing for a day in court. I want real signatures and real paper from each stakeholder and my project champion. Finally, after you have a signature from the project champion or senior management, copy it, distribute it to the team, congratulate them, celebrate the completion if you have a small budget for it, and be sure to file the paperwork according to your businesses file retention policies.

Mike Houghton works in ITAM (IT asset management) with his main area of expertise being enterprise software licensing. He mostly works with Microsoft Volume Licensing and Subscriptions.
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