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Project Management Planning: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Software Project Management   -  

May 20, 2024

Table of Contents

Project management planning is considered as one of the most crucial processes that could turn out to be either beneficial or harmful for the project. But it’s quite worrying to know that 70% of all projects can be considered failures. Why is this so? One of them is the fact that there are certain planning mistakes that are typically made. This article from Designveloper will focus on five of the most typical planning mistakes in project management and offer readers effective ways to prevent these occurrences.

New data shows that 42% of businesses do not yet understand the significance of project management planning. This often results in project failure because of lack of understanding. In order to do so, we will look at some of the current trends and statistics to try and outline the importance of proper planning.

We will also include examples from real cases to demonstrate these mistakes on real projects. After reading this article, you will gain the necessary information on what you should not do in project management planning and how to navigate through the project to achieve success. More to come as we decode these findings with one mistake at a time.

The Importance of Project Management Planning

Project management planning is considered to be the framework of a project ranging from its initiation to completion. It’s simply the management approach or methodology that involves the specific and methodical approach to identifying, group, and structure all the material and activities that are necessary to accomplish a specific task in a specified period of time with a specified budget.

Why is the planning of projects so important? It is also the core foundation stone upon which successful endeavors are rested. In today’s business environment where both companies are constantly adapting in order to meet and overcome challenges of competition, scarcity of resources, exactness of project management planning emerges as one of the most critical issues.

The Importance of Project Management Planning

Also, project management planning eliminates several unknown factors, controls resources, and helps in ensuring that teams are on the right track with a project. For instance, imagine that there is no proper planning for a certain project. It can cause such things as unnecessary bureaucracy or even sometimes costs which are considered sunk costs and this puts pressure on executing the project and sometimes this leads to situations getting out of hand for the project manager.

On the other hand, if a project is planned, the project process will be streamlined and strengthened as well as the successful execution and delivery of a project will be achieved. It defines the scope of succeeding project execution, monitoring & controlling, closure and also explains how the project team will work towards the objectives mentioned in the business case and project charter.

Real-world examples of projects that succeeded due to effective planning

Now it is time to turn to the real examples of projects that were successful due to the efficient project management planning.

To illustrate, let us look into the case of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, a community hospital, located in Santa Clarita, California. The first surgery for the day was scheduled to start and the hospital was behind time which affected the time of other surgeries. Combining several tactics: electronic signage, team work sessions, dynamic dashboards and accountability. They thus managed to increase considerably their surgery on-time start times.

An example is the American Airlines merger with US Airways. The merger led to duplication of both technology and programs; The airline recognized that spreadsheets were inadequate for planning and managing resources and projects. They opted for the use of portfolio and resource management for time entry, resource management, and capacity planning. Therefore, they increased the percentage of IT labor they capitalized from 10 to 20 percent – a move that generated a net multimillion-dollar benefit to their bottom line.

Finally, the RBS had to develop dependable information to support both financial and resource decisions. They retired 35 mainframe applications, more than 50 reporting tools developed by users, and hundreds of Excel workbooks. With portfolio and resource management, they were able to get a grip on their data, see their total portfolio more clearly, and deliver on their business case.

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Project Management Planning

To go through all the project management planning instruments may seem a herculean task. Any project manager will find themselves in the most basic traps which affect project success. The following part of the article will focus on the five major planning missteps in project management that you should try to evade.

We will explore new statistics and information with reports that will support these pitfalls. We will also expand the outline by giving examples on how these mistakes may lead to failure of a project as well as possible solutions to avoid them.

It is also important to have in mind that the most important part of project management planning does not always consist of knowing what to do but also what not to do. Alright, let’s take a look at these mistakes so that we can help you avoid them in your next project.

Mistake 1: Lack of Clear Objectives

The first general planning error in project management is the absence of well-defined goals. It is important to have clear and defined goals because they are the foundation for making decisions and moving forward. Without them, the project team can quickly go astray and produce plans that are poorly thought out and executed in a disconnected manner and never reflect real progress.

The primary reason for project failure is poor project definition and scope with 37% of projects. This lack of clarity not only squanders employee time and efforts but also amounts to financial costs. As much as 10% of every dollar that a business spends are considered to be wasted due to the inefficiency of project management efforts.

Think of a software development project that had to be abandoned because people did not communicate well. The development team lacked time to be informed of changes in the client’s needs thus resulting in a product that did not meet the client’s expectations. This delayed the project and also led to increase in costs due to rework of significant parts of the product.

In order to achieve this it is very important to ensure that there is specification of goals at the start of a project. Goals help in subdividing projects into more manageable pieces thus providing your team with more leverage and vision on the outcomes of their work. They also permit natural cycles for reviewing the project in terms of whether the executed work still maintains the level of initial expectations as well as remaining within the planned scope and cost.

Mistake 2: Inadequate Risk Management

The second common mistake in project management planning is inadequate risk management. Risk management is a critical aspect of project planning. Failure to identify, assess, and manage risks can lead to project failure.

Risk management is about dealing with uncertainty. It involves identifying potential project risks, analyzing them, planning responses to the most important ones, and monitoring and controlling these risks over the life of the project. The goal is to maximize the effects of potential opportunities and minimize or eliminate threats to the project objectives.

However, many project managers often confuse risk causes, events, and impacts. This confusion can lead to an incomplete risk management plan, resulting in delays, quality compromises, and cost overruns during project execution.

For instance, consider a project that was asked to deliver a plan for approval at short notice. The hastily-produced plan was incomplete, leading to delays and cost overruns during its execution.

To avoid this pitfall, it’s crucial to have a comprehensive risk management plan. This plan should be completed early in the project planning phase. It should identify all potential risks, assess their impact, and develop strategies to mitigate or avoid them.

Mistake 3: Poor Communication

The third most recurring failure in planning for projects is communication. Nobody should ever underestimate the importance of communication in any project. It makes sure that all participants align their expectations and work together, preventing the project from stagnating.

But when it is used incorrectly it can result in chaos and misconceptions. It can lead to suboptimal choices, problems, and ultimately project failure. The Project Management Institute (PMI) 2017 reported that ineffective communication causes project failure for 42% of project managers.

5 Mistakes to Avoid in Project Management Planning

For example, imagine there was a project where there was no effective communication. The team did not receive sufficient information on time regarding the changes in client’s demands; therefore, the product delivered was not entirely what the client desired. This led to delays and cost overruns associated with extensive retracing.

In order to overcome this issue, it is important that the project managers keep an open line of communication among employees and promote communication within the team. They should also relate information to organizational-wide goals and objective. This is essential for teams to appreciate how they are making value by what they are doing in explicit tasks to broader project objectives.

Mistake 4: Neglecting Stakeholder Input

The fourth often overlooked mistake in project management planning is the failure to involve stakeholders. In this regard stakeholders are significant and critical to the success of a project. They can share their ideas, offer possible drawbacks, and influence the strategic vision for the project.

But in reality a lot of project managers will neglect the contribution of stakeholders. They do not manage to correctly determine who becomes their stakeholder and therefore do not have the possibility to plan the work on the issues of communication or risk management. It can result in failure to define the project scope and align it with stakeholders’ perceptions.

For example, imagine a project that was requested to provide a plan for approval in a shorter period of time than usual. The plan was prepared in a very short time and was found lacking in several places causing inefficiencies and cost escalations in the implementation process. The opinions of the stakeholders were not taken into consideration and therefore the end product turned out to be a dissatisfying one.

In order to avoid this you need to involve the key stakeholders from the very beginning of the project. This includes the identification of all relevant stakeholders, their demands and interests, as well as the integration of these aspects in the project itself.

Mistake 5: Insufficient Resource Allocation

The fifth typical mistake in the sphere of project management planning is resource underestimation. Resource management is an integral process in project management that helps organizations to achieve their strategic goals in managing resources. But there are quite a number of organizations that struggle with resource management which is a big deal in regard to project success.

Lack of resources can also result in resource bottlenecks or resource wastes. Resource contention refers to a situation when resources are tasked with more work than they can comfortably manage which often results in reduced quality and efficiency of work. On the other hand, underutilization implies that there are unused resources in an organization that lead to inefficient utilization of resources.

To prevent resource overallocation and address underutilization, organizations can implement the following techniques:

  • Capacity planning: Monitor and measure the resource availability and workload capacity to avoid over utilizing resources. Set the scope and schedule within reasonable limits to avoid overutilization of resources. 
  • Resource leveling: Rearrange roles or shift responsibilities of individuals to level out work distribution. Resource leveling reduces instances of overallocation and ensures distribution of work. 
  • Agile methodologies: Introduce flexible resource allocation techniques like Scrum and Kanban. Scrum and other agile frameworks help avoid overworking individuals and assigning too many tasks simply because the scope of work has changed.

Project Management Planning at Designveloper

At Designveloper, we know the significance of project management planning when doing the projects. As a leading web and software development company based in Vietnam, and in our years of work in the IT industry, we saw firsthand the importance of planning for project success or failure.

Thus avoiding common mistakes in the planning of project management is very essential. This we have gotten from other industry statistics and reports and we have adopted the same in our processes. This has in turn enabled us to always provide quality services to our clients.

Project management planning tools utilized at Designveloper

For Designveloper, there are several tools used for project planning for management. Jira and Trello are two of our key resources that we use to achieve our goals in the organization.

Trello is mostly applied to the intranet or for non-IT departments that deal with personnel or office support. It can be used as a progress tracking board in which each task has status (To Do, Doing, Done) written in separate columns. Trello offers the possibility to set people on tasks, include checklists, due dates, and notify them closer to the due date.

On the other hand, Jira is a tool that we use for more professional project management. It is ideally suited for both SCRUM and Kanban which are the two leading Agile frameworks available today. Jira’s core functionality is a definition of the workflow for every task, the guarantee that statuses of tasks will change according to some process that is defined by the team.

Project Management Planning at Designveloper

Atlassian’s Jira also offers a lot of useful reports to visualize project-related data. For example, Burndown charts, Burnup charts, Velocity charts, and Cumulative Flow Diagrams assist us in understanding work progress. Cycle Time report and Deployment Frequency report are related to deployment and assist our project managers in estimating the value received by customers. Roadmaps are used to provide a plan for the future of the product.

All these tools are essential for us in carrying out the project management planning at Designveloper to achieve excellence in our services. Such tools are critical in eliminating poor planning practices and ensuring our projects are headed in the right direction.

Challenges faced in project management planning

At Designveloper, there are numerous project management planning issues we are to tackle. One of the most important is the process of customer requirements. But we receive many requests from customers who have rather abstract and initial concepts. This means our business analysts need to interact and collaborate with the customers to help turn their concepts and visions into requirements and functionality lists for estimating time and scope of work.

This may on some occasions be time consuming and in extreme cases culminate in missed cooperation opportunities. Hence, the time for initial estimation has been reduced by creating a library of estimated time and budget for a set of features. It is created based on the previous projects’ recording, sorting, and compiling of data for the feature library. But now, when we get a request for a customer, it is possible to check similar functions in the library and calculate the estimate. This approach allows for the faster provision of preliminary estimations to the customer and saves time for all concerned.

Conclusion

To sum up, what Designveloper thinks of as the most crucial element of project management is the planning stage of the project. From the discussions above, we have taken the better approach and lessons learned from previous experiences to ensure we do not incur the following mistakes in project management planning. The increased use of project management tools like Jira and Trello, the emphasis on communication, and our ability to involve the right stakeholders and allocate resources effectively are some of the factors that contribute to our success.

We appreciate that each endeavor has its own set of difficulties. But still with proper planning already in place and the willingness to always learn more we are able to handle these challenges just fine. The style of planning project management also enabled us to provide high-quality services and instill excellence among team members.

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