Best Practices

8 Project Management Challenges & How To Overcome Them

Jonathan Friedman
June 2, 2021
8 Project Management Challenges & How To Overcome Them

Curious about the most common project management challenges and how to overcome them? Then, you've come to the right place.

Picture this: you're walking into work on a Monday. Suddenly, you're reminded. You've got a project due at the end of the week!

Your team has been preparing for this moment for a month, but you haven't even finished half of it. The budget is off track, you're missing one of your team members, and you still haven't heard back from the security team.

It's enough to get your blood boiling. But, you shouldn't worry. This will never happen again.

We're here with some of the best advice regarding project management challenges. Every project manager faces these challenges, but you're going to the one that rises above them.

Let's jump in before the rest of the project comes tumbling down.

8 Project management challenges and how to overcome them

Project management challenges

1. There aren't any clear project goals

The first and most prevalent of our project management challenges is the lack of clear goals.

Sometimes, the meaning of the project can get lost in all the noise. This leaves you and your team wondering why you're working on the project in the first place.

Without clear goals, you're going to lack the motivation to get the project done. This is not to mention that clear goals are what drives a project's overall end quality.

Goals are also a way that your team can determine when they're done with the project. Without goals, you may not even know when to stop working. Before long, you're going to run out of resources and willpower.

How to set project goals

In order to combat this challenge, you need to set project goals. Once you've created these goals, you should regularly review them for yourself and for your team.

We highly recommend setting SMART goals:

By following the SMART format, your goals will be easier to track and meet. To do this, each goal should tell you the following:

At the same time, you need to make sure that all of your goals are relevant to the project at hand. And they need to reflect the company's overall vision and mission.

2. There is no (meaningful) budget

The second of our project management challenges is the lack of a budget.

Well, it may seem like there's no budget. In other words, your team is going above and beyond the budget every single time. The overspending isn't helping your relationship with the accounting team, and your probably not getting your money's worth out of the budget in the first place.

There are plenty of reasons that a project may go over budget:

Whatever the reason, you're now stuck with much less money than you planned for. Now, you're stuck with a partially completed project and no money.

If you keep going over budget, you're going to end up with negative funds every time you complete a project. Losing money over and over again will eventually lead to more harm than good.

It's a project manager's worst nightmare.

How to keep the project within the budget

Budgeting is not the most fun part of project planning. However, it's one of the most critical steps. It keeps your company afloat while you perform tasks across the lifetime of a project.

In order to plan your budget the right way, you need excellent project management software. The right software for your team can help you plan out every aspect of your project. With this, you can budget for each task adequately.

You'll be able to order out every task that you need to get done for each project that you have. At the same time, you'll be able to budget for that task, assign an employee to the task, and pretty much do anything in relation to that task.

3. There is no communication

Another common project management challenge is the lack of clear communication.

If your team can't communicate, it's no wonder that projects aren't getting done. Many projects fail because of the project manager and the team members not being on the same page.

Often, team members aren't sure what's expected of them. Therefore, they don't understand how to complete a task that a project manager has assigned to them.

This can come from the manager's side as well.

Sometimes, the project manager doesn't share enough information with the team. They may not tell the team what they're expecting. They may not share project risks that they've identified.

If the project manager doesn't share enough with their team, everyone will run to their desk with questions. The leader won't get a break.

Avoid the rush of questions by communicating clearly from the beginning.

How to communicate effectively

So, to combat poor communication, you need to use effective communication. But that's easier said than done.

First, you need to set up a knowledge base. This knowledge base is the first place that your team should be able to go for answers. It will contain processes, tools, and guidelines that your team should follow as they're going through their tasks.

You could use any number of tools for project management: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft OneNote. But, we recommend using a project management platform. This software can help you create a knowledge base.

And you'll be able to create an environment for each individual task. You can make comments for specific tasks and make real-time changes.

A project management platform can help you communicate with your team in real-time. This improves communication with the team overall.

4. There is poor resource management

The fourth of our project management challenges is poor resource management.

Resources include things like employees, time, and money. If you can't manage resources effectively, you're likely to end up with an inferior end-product. And, you'll most likely have spent too much money and gone over the amount of allotted time.

In order to manage your resource effectively, you need to plan, schedule, and distribute resources accordingly. If this isn't done right, you will waste resources and run out of resources quickly.

Resources run the entire project. Without adequate resources, your entire project could crumble. So, we need to cover how to manage your resources well.

How to effectively manage your resources

When it comes to managing resources, you need to find the method that best works for you. Some people love Excel documents. Others go with the flow.

We recommend investing in project management software that can keep track of all of your resources for you. As you're assigning workers to tasks, you can see how much work you've assigned them. This can help you control giving one employee too many assignments.

At the same time, project management software can help you keep track of the money you're spending, and the time you're using. This software keeps track of all of your resources for you which means that you don't need to spend hours updating a document.

5. There isn't effective workflow management

Another common project management challenge is ineffective workflow management.

Workflow is what helps the project manager and all of the team members keep up with one another. Naturally, this ties in with communication.

If everyone is working by themselves, there's no way you're going to progress the project. Individual team members may not understand what they need to do to contribute to the project as a whole.

Eventually, your project may slow down and come to a complete stop.

The bottom line here is that you need to understand how to effectively perform workflow management so that no one is left behind. 

How to perform workflow management

In order to perform workflow management, you need to map out the workflow that you want you and your team to follow. It's best to do this while you're creating the project plan.

Using a Gantt chart may be the best way to go. This allows you to pinpoint each phase in your projects and organize them how you see fit. At the same time, you can organize when you want those phases to start and end. 

Once you have that figured out, you can organize all of the tasks in Kanban view. This allows your entire team to see all of the tasks that the project manager has laid out for the project. Then, they can move tasks into different categories as they see fit.

These categories may include "pending," "in progress," "complete," and more.

Another way to speed up workflow management is through automation. If you can automate certain parts of your project, you will set your team up for great timeliness.

Automation ensures that the most straightforward tasks are done quickly. This means that your team doesn't have to worry about these tasks either. So, their time can go to something else.

6. There are impossible deadlines

The sixth of our project management challenges is setting difficult, if not impossible, deadlines.

If you've made deadlines that your employees can't meet, you're asking for trouble. You may have stakeholders breathing down your neck. Or, you may be trying to push the product out quickly.

Whatever the reasoning, you're asking for a world of trouble. Putting unnecessary pressure on your employees to complete tasks quickly is only going to hurt the project. In fact, your push to speed things up may end up slowing things down.

Your team doesn't want to work on a project that they know they won't be able to complete. Thus, they aren't going to be as motivated as they would be with an adequate amount of time.

So, it would be best if you fixed those unreasonable deadlines now.

How to remedy bad deadlines

In order to fix poor deadlines, you need to start with the force that's pushing you. Ask your stakeholder or client why they're pushing you to complete a task or project by a specific date. You both may find that there isn't a good enough reason to push your team to their wit's end.

Once you both come to a better decision, you can track your employees' time. Giving them a timed goal will help them focus on one task at a time and get them done in a timely manner.

7. There is a lack of accountability

Another common project management challenge is a lack of accountability.

If your team members aren't holding themselves accountable for their own mistakes, your team is going to get into conflict over who to blame for the problem. Likely, team members may end up blaming one another for their mistakes.

Usually, a lack of accountability comes from poor communication about who was in charge of what.

How to build accountability on your team

With project management software, you'll be able to assign tasks to one or multiple people. This way, everyone will know exactly who needed to do what.

Then, there won't be any problem with accountability. It will be clear which tasks team members didn't complete.

8. There is scope creep

The last of our project management challenges is scope creep.

Did you know that 52% of project teams face scope creep?

Scope creep is inevitable. But, having too much can end a project quickly.

Clients who don't know what they want have vague requirements. This can cause issues when it comes to determining what to do with the project. Therefore, the scope of the project will increase.

How to control project scope

The number one way to control project scope is by engaging with your client. The more you speak with and check in with your client, the more you and your team will understand what they're looking for.

If you find that a client is constantly changing their mind, it's essential to sit down with them and discuss the changes that they want. Then, it's important to explain that too many changes can cause scope creep.

This will help the client stay in line with the actual goals of the project. Therefore, your team can avoid scope creep.

Overcome project management challenges with the right software

You may have noticed a theme: great project management software. If you're going to overcome any of these project management challenges, you need to invest in a system that will do the work for you.

All you have to worry about is finding the perfect project management software for you.

So, get started with a free trial of TrueNxus today and tackle those project management difficulties like never before.