Avoid these 5 Deadly Mistakes in Project Lifecycle

by David Miller / 3/23/2018 12:49:30 PM

Being a project manager is not easy. You have to be on your toes all the time. After all fulfilling the expectations of your clients, top management and your team with efficiency becomes a priority. Despite the experience and skill-set you may possess, there is always a constant fear of committing a deadly mistake that screws your project and your career.

There is no denying that mistakes are a part of life. There is no sure-fire way of preventing them from happening time and again. But with some basic ground rules and a proactive approach, a lot of can be prevented from occurring in the first place. Moreover, even if small mistakes occur, you should know how to restrict them from becoming deadly mistakes.

So, how do you prevent them? First and foremost step to avoid committing mistakes is to identify them. Rest depends on how you prepare yourself to mitigate them.

Let’s have a look at five deadly mistakes you need to avoid throughout your project lifecycle:

Lack of Planning

More often you may not tend to start a project as soon as you receive a green signal from client. It is because you’re excited about achieving it in the first place. This is one time when you may rush the planning part. Skip the foggy parts like issues, concerns, and budget stated by client.


These can hamper a project’s progress or may force client to have second thoughts. This can skip from client’s behalf too. It can happen because of two reasons:

  1. i) One, the client is too reliant on your services that they won’t make an effort on their part to discuss the challenges while initiating a project.
  2. ii) Two, this could be client’s first project in a while. Due to this, they may skip the problems their organization could face while planning and executing the project.

Another reason why planning may go down the hill is to think you’ll figure out the vague part later. This is also a deadly mistake. You need know deliverables clearly. Have clarity on how to set your milestones in place. If not, your resource planning and time management will go out the window.

If you wish to avert any unhappy surprises, ensure to clear your doubts and state crisp goals instead of vague requirements. Your client should be on the same page about deliverables of the project and the approach that you’ll be taking.

There might be scope creep when client keeps adding more to the objectives of the project without increasing the budget. Therefore, to foresee all the issues during the planning phase help you avert financial losses and sour relations with client, besides denting your career.

Being Reactive Instead of Proactive

Even though 39% of the projects fail due to lack of planning, its still not the only reason. There are various risks we fail to foresee that may arise at a later stage that lead to project failure. One of them being reactive instead of proactive.

For example, a new government policy is about to be implemented. With its implementation, it would increase your cost incurred by 10%. If not addressed proactively before taking the client on board with it, you may suffer 10% of decrease in your profit, which is quite huge.

Such risks shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, 30% of the projects fail due to undefined risks. Thus, inspecting their every aspect is necessary. Risk management requires you to identify critical outcomes beforehand. Next, you need to be ready with a contingency plan. Once prepared, take them head on and come out victoriously without disturbing the course of your project.

Moreover, always keep stakeholders updated with these risks through effective and crisp communication.

Lack of Standard Processes

Yes, every client is different and every project has different needs. But does that mean you can’t have standard process for all? Well, that isn’t true. Setting standard procedure for all projects is essential. If not completed beforehand, you may be working ‘in’ the project instead of ‘on’ the project.  There are possibilities of being stuck in the day to day activities of the project if not working as per a standard procedure.

As a manager, you should have an eagle eye view. Learning the overall status of a project won’t help much. If work has been divided in milestones or tasks, then ensure to take regular updates for each one of them.

It is imperative to set standard processes for the common activities and have a structure in place. You can customize it as per the client needs. But this does help you avoid the “start from scratch” approach.

You have to be process dependent, not person dependent. This is because every employee would follow its own method. Similar approach may not be suitable for every project. Make sure new team members undergo an orientation process to learn the processes. Even if you hire a freelancing expert, share your methods and processes with them so they follow them too.

Efficient standard processes make you stand apart among your competitors. They help you deliver work on time, besides granting you control and peace of mind.

Not Being Data-Driven

The worst mistake you can commit is to work on hunches and guesses. This does not help you decide what will be best for your project. Project managers with experience work on their intuition and gut feeling at times. Their past experience plays a significant role in this. Intuition that comes from experience is great, but it doesn’t mean you ignore hard data and facts.

Even a simple project management software can provide you with excellent data. Use it to gain insights on the progress of the project. Know and predict where the project is headed. Study past project data to analyze what went good or bad. This can help you repeat those decisions that garnered good results as well as identify and improve the parts that fetched bad results.

Always keep in mind: without data, it’s just your opinion, not a fact.

Playing the Blame Game

Small mistakes can and will happen despite your utmost precautions. You have to rise to the occasion as a project manager. Take responsibility of the project instead of blaming your management, team or client for the same.

Keep your communication channel open and discuss the problem with stakeholders to solve it then and there. It is said that 26% of the projects have successfully been completed due to effective communication team and management. Do not ignore your mistakes, whether small or big. They snowball into colossal problems that end up becoming a deadly mistake.

Finally to Conclude..

It will be an understatement if suggested that professionals do not commit mistakes. They are an integral part of everyone’s life. Accept them as they come. But that does not mean that you can avert them.

It is important you learn from them in order to never commit them again. From lack of communication to not keeping a track of your project’s progress, you need to know, analyze and plan better on how to avert them in the first place.

Also, inculcate a tendency to learn from other people’s mistakes too. Because if you are always learning from your own mistakes, your whole life might fall short!

Author Bio: David is a technical writer, his works are regularly published in various papers and top-notch portals. His rich experience in Project management domain helps him offer latest and fresh perspective on improved efficiency in work flows across organizations. His informative works on similar lines can be reached out on ProProfs Project. 

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