Balancing the elements of a complex project - time, money, scope and people - is one of the jobs of a project manager. Project management training is an essential step for managing the unexpected obstacles project managers can face on a daily basis. To help put things in perspective, here is an overview of the top 10 project management challenges that project managers can encounter on the job.
Project Management Challenges Within Corporate Projects
- Undefined Goals – When goals are not clearly identified, the whole project and team can suffer. When upper management cannot agree to or support undefined goals, the project in question typically 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 occurs when project management allows the project's scope to extend beyond its original objectives. Clients and supervisors may ask for changes to a project, and it takes a strong project manager to 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 do not 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 can 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.
Project Management Challenge: Dealing With Risk
- Improper Risk Management – Learning to deal with and plan for risk is another important piece of project management training. Risk tolerance is typically a desirable project manager trait because projects rarely go exactly to plan. Gathering input, developing trust and knowing which parts of a project are most likely to veer off course are aspects of the project manager's job.
- Ambiguous Contingency Plans – It's important for project managers to know what direction to take in pre-defined "what-if" scenarios. If 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 smoothe and 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 can help increase 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 successful project manager knows that repeatedly asking a team for the impossible can quickly result in declining morale and productivity. The odds of successfully completing a project under unreasonable deadlines are generally not feasible expectations.
- Resource Deprivation – In order for a project to be run efficiently and effectively, management must provide sufficient resources. 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. 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 lacking. Continuing education is typically the first step toward overcoming the challenges you'll likely face throughout your project management career.
Project managers can learn best practices 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. Professionals can explore critical topics in Villanova's Certificate in Applied Project Management program. Students enrolled in Villanova's online project management programs also prepare for industry certification which can lead to expanded career opportunities and successful project implementation.