If you ever built a website or an app for your business, you probably hired a web development agency to help you out. And when you did, you met with a project manager, whose job was to make sure your needs are met.
More specifically, project managers are responsible for:
- Scoping your project, i.e. understanding your requirements and help you decide on a plan of action that fits your needs, deadlines and budget;
- Making the plan, setting up functional briefs and develop a wireframe (or in some cases even a high fidelity prototype);
- Coordinate with you, the design team and the development team throughout your project,
- Manage tasks, risks, updates, milestones and the budget, etc.
But, no one is perfect. As we saw before, designers make mistakes so do frontend developers and backend developers. So in this article, we will focus on 9 of the most common mistakes project managers make throughout a project, and hopefully, by the end of this read, you will know how to spot them and help your project manager avoid them.
Let’s dive in!
1. Not knowing the team’s strengths and assigning the wrong person to your project
Some of the most crucial resources for your project, aside from the budget, are human resources. And for you, your project manager must know their team well enough to assign each task to the right person.
Otherwise, you can end up with a poor quality website or app, go over budget, or even worse, end up with nothing.
One way Wiredelta’s team avoids this situation is by discussing with our development team and deciding who is the best fit for each task. This way, even if your project manager is new to the company, the developers weigh in their experience, and you get the right person for your needs.
2. Forgetting to update you or not keeping track of the team’s progress
You don’t need us to tell you that during the project, communication is essential.
It can happen that project managers forget to update you or to ask for updates from the developers. This can be because they don’t feel the need to update you as you trust them to do their job. Or, similarly, they trust the developers to do theirs, so they don’t ask for updates.
Needless to say that this break in communication can lead to a lot of complications, including missing milestones and deadlines, going over budget because of misunderstood requirements, delivering the wrong product etc.
To avoid this, we make sure we have regular update meetings with you to keep everything clear and transparent. Depending on the project and the task at hand, we also hold daily updates, weekly or bi-weekly sprints with the developers.
We also send you follow-up emails and update our meeting minutes in the project functional brief for “safekeeping”.
3. Failing to delegate or ask for help
Project managers are pressured by deadlines, budgets, stakeholders, and the development team to know what to do at all times and make decisions quickly and efficiently. However, many junior project managers especially fail to delegate or ask for help for fear of wasting time or showing that they don’t have all the answers.
It might even be because they wanted to “save” a bit of time, or they “didn’t want to bother you”. Whatever the reason, making big decisions without consulting you will affect the project in the long run.
In our journey, we have learned that if you have a good communication structure set up, these situations will not happen, and your project manager will trust you enough to reach out when there is a problem and keep you updated.
4. Being overly optimistic about schedules and providing you with bad estimations
“Misestimation” happens mostly because less experienced project managers tend to generalize a bit too much – i.e. they saw that feature before and think it should be the same now. But, every project is different, and things don’t always go as planned, which is why we so religiously follow Murphy’s Law:
“Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
For this reason, we rely on our development team for estimations, not the project manager. In other words, our project managers collect the requirements and present them to the development team. Then the developers do their research into the tasks and:
- Assess how long would it take to develop and implement a feature,
- What constraints or limitations we might have,
- Are there any third party services needed, and if so, are there any limitations on their side, etc.?
On top of that, we also add a buffer or margin that we use when a bug or unexpected issue comes up, so we significantly reduce the risk of going over your deadlines and budget.
5. Allowing their stress to affect your project
When something goes wrong, you rely on your project manager for an explanation. At the same time, the developers rely on them for directions, and both of you want answers, and you want them now.
That can be pretty stressful. So, what are project managers to do in a stressful situation to not show or act on their emotions? Communicate, that’s right.
In our case, we avoid acting on emotion by keeping a high level of transparency. Simply put, when something is not going right, you are the first one we talk to. We then set up a meeting, discuss the situation and potential solutions, and decide together on the right plan of action. See, cool as a cucumber.
6. Bad planning or lacking a clear objective
Having an unclear objective can undermine a project’s success, and it is one of the easy-to-make mistakes for some managers as well.
Sometimes it can be that there are just so many things at a time on the table, or in another situation maybe the managers know exactly what to do, but lack a comprehensive step-by-step plan.
Therefore, when it comes to project management, our project managers create a goal and develop a strategy that is easy to understand. This way, they ensure that all the team members understand completely what to do, and when and where to start to reach the goal.
7. Fail to manage project scope
Ah, the project scope and the bitter-sweet scope creeps.
If you’re unfamiliar, the project scope is basically all of the initial requirements that project managers have collected in a functional brief, letter of agreement, contract, etc, at the beginning of the project. Scope creeps are changes you bring during the development phase.
But, what you may not know is that changes are not always easy to implement, and it is up to the project manager to discuss them with you and help you decide which you keep and which you set aside.
Allowing too many scope creeps will result in a disaster – you’re not getting your project done in the agreed time, you will have to pay more, and it might not be what you wanted to begin with.
So, to make sure this does not happen to your project, we first discuss each change with our developers, just like we would with any feature or task, and then we sit down with you and explain the situation. This way you can make an educated decision regardless of the size or implications of each change.
8. Forgetting about risk management
Planning and trying to come up with an almost-perfect estimation is one thing. But bugs, limitations and constraints have a way of sneaking in on you when least expected. And since neither the project managers or the developers are clairvoyant – trust us, we checked – unexpected situations will occur.
The problems start wreaking havoc when your project manager forgot or didn’t take into consideration these unforeseeable risks and doesn’t have a contingency plan.
Thanks to our years of experience, our team now has probably at least 2 plans prepared in case of an emergency. We had to learn the hard way, but here we are ready for anything technology throws at us.
9. Being inflexible or resistant to change
Projects evolve – the scope or schedules change, meetings get cancelled, and so on. But sometimes, project managers may not want to adapt since they probably already put in a lot of effort and time in their plan.
However, working with Agile development means change is inevitable. Sometimes the whole plan is scrapped, and that’s totally fine as long as it is the right thing for the project.
So, our project managers are trained to keep an open mind, listen to you and the development team, discuss solutions for the project issues, and find a way towards the right outcome, regardless of how much time or effort they have invested.
Summing up the 9 common mistakes project managers make
Although we only discussed the 9 most common mistakes project managers make in their line of work, there are several others that you should keep an eye out for. But, one thing to take away from this article is that communication will help:
- Ensure you define your goals and scope properly;
- Your team is the right team for you;
- There is a plan and a contingency plan in place for the success of your project;
- You build a strong relationship with your project manager and development team.
More importantly, remember that they are human, and even if they make mistakes, they have your best interest at heart. So, try and help them help you.
And if you need help or a second opinion, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and book a free meeting with one of our experts if you have more inquiries.