Balancing all the elements of a complex project - time, money, scope and people - is the project manager's job. Excellent project management training is essential to successfully dealing with the unexpected challenges that come with every project. Following is an overview of the top 10 project management challenges that project managers may encounter on the job.
Project Management Challenges Within Corporate Projects
- Undefined Goals: When goals are not clearly identified, it is impossible for the team to meet them. And, since upper management cannot agree to or support undefined goals, the project in question has little chance of succeeding. The project manager must ask the right questions to establish and communicate clear goals from the outset.
- Scope Changes: Also known as "scope creep," this phenomenon occurs when project management allows the project's scope to extend beyond its original objectives. Certainly, clients and supervisors will ask for changes to a project - but a good project manager will evaluate each request and decide how and if to implement it, while communicating the effects on budget and deadlines to all stakeholders.
Working With a Team: Challenges For Project Managers
- Inadequate Skills for the Project: A project sometimes requires skills that the project's contributors don't possess. Project management training can help a project leader determine the needed competencies, assess the available workers and recommend training, outsourcing or hiring additional staff.
- Lack of Accountability: A project manager's leadership qualities really shine when each member of the team takes responsibility for his or her role in achieving project success. Conversely, a lack of accountability can bring a project to a complete halt. Finger-pointing and avoiding blame are unproductive - but all-too-common - features of flawed project management. Learning to direct teams toward a common goal is an important aspect of project management training.
Another Project Management Challenge: Dealing With Risk
- Improper Risk Management: Learning to deal with and plan for risk is an essential piece of project management training. And risk tolerance is a desirable project manager trait - because projects rarely go exactly according to plan. Gathering input, developing trust and knowing which parts of a project are most likely to veer off course are all aspects of the project manager's job.
- Ambiguous Contingency Plans: It's important for project managers to know exactly what direction to take in pre-defined "what-if" scenarios. But if those contingencies are not identified, the entire project can become mired in an unexpected set of problems. Asking others to identify potential problem areas can lead to a much smoother and more successful project.
Project Management and Communication Challenges
- Poor Communication: Project managers provide direction at every step of the project, so each team leader knows what's expected. Effective communication to everyone involved in the project is crucial to its successful completion.
- Project management training includes an emphasis on written and oral communication skills
- Proper communication increases team members' morale by establishing clear expectations
- Good project managers keep communication and feedback flowing between upper management and team leaders
Managing Expectations: An Important Project Manager Attribute
- Impossible Deadlines: A strong leader - and successful project manager - knows that repeatedly asking a team for the impossible will result in declining morale and productivity. The odds of successfully completing a project under unreasonable deadlines are not very good.
- Resource Deprivation: In order for a project to be run efficiently and effectively, management must provide sufficient resources - human, time and money. Project management training shows how to define needs and obtain approval up front, and helps project managers assign and prioritize resources throughout the duration of a project.
- Lack of Stakeholder Engagement: A disinterested team member, client, CEO or vendor can destroy a project quickly. It's like having a distracted paddler in a two-person canoe - you might get to the finish line, but not efficiently or on time. And you'll waste a lot of energy in the process! A skilled project manager communicates openly and encourages feedback at every step to create greater engagement among participants.
Project Management Training Pays Off
Effective project management skills can be learned and developed with quality project management training. It's important to honestly evaluate your skills and work to improve those you lack. Continuing education is the first step in overcoming the challenges you'll face throughout your project management career.
Project Management Training Programs
Project managers can master best strategies through training programs offered online. Villanova University offers 100% online project management certificate programs that are delivered via a flexible, video-based e-learning platform. Ranked the #1 university in the Master's category/North region by U.S. News & World Report, Villanova has earned a reputation as the leading provider of project management education online. Professionals explore critical topics in Villanova's Master Certificate in IS/IT Project Management and Master Certificate in Applied Project Management programs. Students enrolled in Villanova's online project management programs also prepare for industry certification as a PMP® or CAPM® - which can lead to expanded career opportunities and more successful projects.