8 Common Misconceptions about Project Management

Common misconceptions about project management easily derail projects that do not incorporate internationally-accepted standards of project planning, execution, control and closure. Here are 8 common misconceptions to avoid:

1. Project process is more crucial than implementers

A smooth, well-planned project process is key. Without people making intelligent decisions around process, however, projects fail. Amanda Schupak, writing for the PMI, cites cases where insufficient expert engagement or inadequate skills development led to projects failing even though process had been worked out to the letter.

2. A set budget means no new projects

A set budget shouldn’t preclude pursuing project requests that demonstrate high potential value. The pro of putting new projects on hold once a budget is set is that ‘all hands on deck’ yields faster project completion.

The con, however, is that you could miss major opportunities. Delaying valuable projects purely on principle may result in competitors completing a similar project with similar market objectives first.

3. Everything depends on execution

This notion can lead to a haphazard project planning process because it doesn’t give equal weight to planning, an equally important project development phase. If execution is put before sound prior planning, expensive reworking that decreases team morale and inflates scope can result.

4. Registering risks is all you need to launch

Bad risk planning and management can derail even the best-strategized projects. Ongoing risk management should be built into each project from the start to ensure completion estimations are met without undue interruption.

5. Versatile teams don’t need project managers

Even if everyone on a team knows three programming languages a project manager is essential. A single figure of accountability who maintains a bird’s eye view of project timelines and dependencies will ensure everything runs to plan.

6. Data and metrics count more than feelings and perceptions

Over-relying on data and metrics is risky because project teams can misinterpret data or misunderstand how a project supports their organisation’s goals. It is best to make sure the entire team has shared feelings and perceptions that support core project objectives.

7. Best practices must be followed at all times

Best practices might not always prove the best plan of action for your specific project. Use best practices as a helpful guide but also monitor results and find learnings that will help you shape your own, niche-specific practices.

8. You should never kill a project

There are cases where it might be a better idea to kill a project than proceed:

  • Technology changes significantly during the process, making your end goal obsolete
  • Costs balloon unmanageably due to oversights
  • Competitors succeed with a definitive product ahead of your own schedule in an extremely competitive space

There are many misconceptions about project management, but provided you avoid the 8 outlined above and invest in skilled project management and project teams, you can avoid them.

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