solution manager, Consolis, Vantaa, Finland
The biggest mistake project managers make today is to agree to be responsible for projects that are not actually projects. It's not a project if it does not have an owner or a sponsor, or if it has nothing more than a PowerPoint slide as a basis for a project plan. It's not a project if it does not have a better timetable than “by the end of this year,” and if it does not have a better financing plan than “there is still some money left in the annual budget.” Most projects succeed. The ones that are not projects often fail and deflate the value of proper project management.
Seth Goldfarb, PMP
senior project manager/ consultant, US Healthcare Consultants, Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Failing to maintain a common understanding of the project manager's role and responsibilities throughout the project lifecycle [is a big mistake]. Customers should understand the reasoning behind tools and techniques; solid process integration and regular process assessment and improvement; engagement protocol; and the impact of change.
[Make sure] project sponsors and stakeholders do not overlook how one activity impacts another, and clearly illustrate the project landscape from a high-level view to ground level. [That way] sponsors and all engaged resources understand what they need to do and what activities impact their domain of the project.
head of infrastructure and service delivery, Barclays Bank PLC, Milan, Italy
The most dangerous mistake is project managers' inability to reach a correct balance of focus and control on the project. On one side is the project manager who micromanages everything without any delegation. On the other side is the project manager who totally ignores some relevant aspects of the project or business—such as cost, technology and resources—and assumes there are others who know how to deal with these issues. Both extremes lead to negligence of relevant aspects of the project. The only way to overcome this mistake is to find the correct level of delegation and carry out periodic reviews involving all project stakeholders so all aspects are monitored correctly.
project management consultant, Genesis Development, Bucharest, Romania
One of the biggest mistakes a project manager can make is to forget that all projects are unique and there is something to learn from each new project. Too much experience can sometimes bring overconfidence, superiority and arrogance. Such attitudes lead to minimal feedback and participation from the project team, suppressing innovation and improvement. There is no single formula to deliver successful projects, and a single person will not do it without support from all project participants. The project manager should create a working environment where there is a balance between discipline, originality and participation.
Shailendra Kadre, PMP
pre–sales consultant, Hewlett-Packard, Bangalore, India
Improper scope management is the most common and biggest mistake made by project managers. Considering business requirements when working on scope is very important to the success of a project. Project managers often take requirement signoffs from the IT folks, but when the software reaches the hands of actual business users, it creates a big mess. It's only then the team realizes many business-critical requirements are not taken into account. In addition, improper scope management adds substantially to project estimates. Finally, project managers must validate team members' skills to get reasonably accurate schedule estimates.