7 Common Project Management Problems


Weather you manage projects as a profession or not, we all find ourselves involved in many different projects, be that our own personal or participating in someone else’s as a stakeholder or contributor. Here below are the most common types of problems project managers face while managing projects to internal or external customers.

1. Your Client Gives You Vague, Ever-changing Requirements.

The client doesn’t know what they want until a certain stage is complete.

2. Your Client is Slow with Communication.

It’s tough to move forward on a project if one can never get answers from the person you’re working with.

3. The Project Doesn’t Start On Time.

The client says today this project is top priority but tomorrow a different project becomes more important.

4. You Try to Manage Every Project the Same Way.

Situations, people, and goals change over time.

5. The Client Doesn’t Like What You Created.

Make sure it is understood not just the technical requirements of a project, but also the underlying rationale of the clients.

6. Your Point of Contact Doesn’t Seem to Care About Your Project.

The project’s final product will have no direct effect on the person’s job and they provide minimal guidance.

7. Too Much Time is Spent Solving Problems After Projects Are “Live”.

This problem is caused by focusing too much on production, and not enough on testing.

Of course nobody can take a cookie-cutter approach when managing a project and project managers face daily many different situations that require quick, balanced and smart approach to problems balanced with very powerful and structure communication plan but it is still very interesting and important to pay attention to each of the points discussed above and keep these points always handy since they most likely will be part of your project.

Another key issue and consideration regarded to project management is the fact that project managers have to deal with people and only those who have managed people know how rewarding or stressful it can be. Because people have their own interests, moods and personal problems, project dynamics can change daily and the same project that is running flawlessly today can get derailed or to a screeching halt due to the “work” of few very quickly and without any major signals or announcements. This is why conflict management and communication plan are very powerful tools that allow the project manager to maintain sanity and keep their projects running the best way possible. Very hardly a project manager can really manage a project from the distance without checking the pulse of its team dynamics by living, feeling and experiencing how the team is performing on its most basic levels. Project manager cannot become detached from their projects and try to run it bureaucratically instead of participatively, at least not without major consequences to the project results and success.

 Have you experienced any or all of the 7 common project management problems listed above? If so, how have you handled the situation and what was the result?


3 thoughts on “7 Common Project Management Problems

  1. As a project manager, I have experienced almost all of the 7 common project management problems listed above, and can definitely relate to them. The common project management problem that I am experiencing now is number 1 – “your client gives you vague, ever-changing requirements.” The goal of the current project that I am leading is to build an electronic device history record (eDHR) for medical products. The initial business requirements were gathered in the February / March time period of this year. Yet, the business still wants to incorporate several new requirements, even though the implementation activities have started. As of now, I am managing these new requirements through intensive communication and meeting with key stakeholders to drive alignment and decisions on content and architecture. Another approach I am taking with the team is to try to come-up with innovative solutions so that we can incorporate the new user requirements, without impacting target launch date. Nonetheless, any new user requirements that we cannot incorporate into the initial launch are being gathered in order to determine feasibility for a Phase 2 launch. Overall, this is definitely challenging, and we are trying to come-up with innovative solutions to capture all requirements in the initial launch so we don’t need to have a Phase 2 launch.

  2. I’ve experienced all 7 on all projects in some form. 
    We have to remember that not everyone has the same experience working on a project. We are asking people for requirements when they may not know what the ultimate strategy or vision is behind the project. I know I was asked to write requirements several years back and I really struggled because certain things I thought were assumed or “no-brainers” ended up being some of the more complicated requirements and at the same time things I thought were very important weren’t a big deal. Things such as good requirement gathering come together as the team grows together. Each knows what the other is looking for and they know the right questions to ask. Unfortunately, projects are temporary so the chance to build that rapport has its limitations. When putting new project teams together, we try to keep some common people together to help with the team dynamics and communication.

  3. The problems described above have held true in many of the projects I have been charged with recently. In my current role, I was asked to perform a financial review of the different groups of doctors that I oversee, approximately 200 physicians in total. Initially, my boss gave us a set of data from the past three years and asked us to analyze a handful of metrics for each of our designated groups. This information was relayed to the analysts approximately three days prior to the actual financial review with the board. We did our best to compile the data although various metrics were missing from the data set that was available. As I was compiling this data, i realized that it doesn’t give a very clear picture of the financial state of each group of doctors. I asked the finance department to extract other data which could be incorporated in this analysis. Two hours before the financial review with the board, these metrics finally arrived in my inbox. At that point it was too late to analyze them, forcing me to use the initial metrics that my boss had proposed. As we sat with the board, going over the metrics, our regional director informs us that these metrics are not sufficient to give a clear picture of the financial state of these groups. We were given two additional weeks to extract additional data. It has now been 10 days, our next financial review is next Tuesday and are still battling with the finance department to obtain the needed data to analyze the metrics for this upcoming financial review. This goes to show that all of the project management problems listed above are common in all project environments, large and small.

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