Strategies to Avoid: Project Management Pitfalls

January 25, 2023


Project management is often one of the more daunting components of an administrative career. In most cases, project management requires an acute awareness of detail, multitasking skills, impeccable communication, and the overseeing of multiple moving parts. The multifaceted nature of project management often leads to specific downfalls, failures, and missteps.

So, how can administrative professionals brush up on their project management skills? Not only this, but how can they work to avoid the common pitfalls of project management? This webinar, hosted by ASAP, has the answers.

We were joined by Michelle Adams, Content Manager at Kintone, who shared with us her key tips for staying on task in a big project. Thanks to Michelle’s expertise, we got an exclusive insight into how to avoid these standard project management mistakes.

Let’s explore these aspects deeper, and discover how to see a project to successful completion.

How to Define Project Management

While most administrative professionals are intimately familiar with project management, it’s important to clearly define what it is.

For the sake of clarity, project management is overseeing a team of individuals with the common goal of completing a project or task. Project management starts from the moment you’re in the development stages to the moment it’s carried to completion. 

In many cases, there are many facets to a single given project. There are tasks to be accomplished spanning multiple departments. There are deadlines to meet. There are countless meetings, unexpected twists and turns, and common miscommunications as well. These pressures and pitfalls may result in the project’s imminent failure. Michelle even noted that 37% of projects fail due to unclear project objectives. Why does this occur, and how can professionals seek remediation?

What Causes a Project to Fail?

Failed projects are a huge hit to team morale. They reflect poorly on the success of the company, they waste necessary resources, they waste time, and everyone feels the impact. For businesses that want to make the most of their money and resources, incomplete project missions pose a significant threat.

Michelle went further to say that only 23% of organizations have standardized project management practices in place. This percentage is pretty low, considering how many companies rely on optimized project management for their success.

Let’s get into these common pitfalls and how they manifest in the workplace.

Unclear Project Objectives and Goals

Unclear objectives and goals make project management more difficult than necessary. Not only this, but Michelle noted that most business models confuse goals and objectives. This lack of clarity leads to disorganization, communication errors, missed deadlines, and other project mishaps. 

To create a distinction between objectives and goals, Michelle further defines these terms as,

  • Goals: The vision and desired outcome companies are working toward in a project. Goals are the specific ideas we have in mind about what the project will accomplish and create.

  • Objectives: On the other hand, objectives are the specifications and roadmap that guide us toward our goal. 

Michelle states that it’s vital for businesses to implement clear objectives when embarking on a new project. Objectives should be “specific, measurable, achievable, and timely.” 

Where do you want to be at the completion of this project? Your objectives should inform you and your team how you’ll get there.

Lack of Standardized Project Management Practices

As stated previously, only a small percentage of companies have standardized project management practices in place. This alarming statistic tells us that in most cases, the team being guided has little understanding of their role within the project. Without clear practices in place, teams can’t fulfill their goal.

Give your team clear incentives throughout the process. Offer clear instructions, guidelines, and measurable timetables so everyone is on the same page. Help your team understand what their roles are and why. And of course, share with them the bottom line. Creating standard practices for project management means your team is more likely to succeed.

Lack of Team Buy-In

Similar to providing clear objectives and standardized practices, having the buy-in from your team is just as vital in ensuring success. If your team doesn’t know where the project is headed, what goals to achieve, and what to expect, they cannot get on board.

Getting the buy-in, commitment, and “yes” from your team starts with solid leadership. Create a plan and a roadmap, and instill efficient practices, and your team is more likely to stay the course.

As the project unfolds, leave room for feedback and ideas for improvement. Value each member of your team and consider their expertise. Be a leader who delegates, pivots, and takes action when things aren’t working.

Lack of Software

The team at Kintone is dedicated to creating a customizable workplace platform for streamlined workflows and data management. Having specific software in place to automate processes will make once-timely tasks run seamlessly.

Find a platform that works for your project’s needs and use it to track your progress. Without efficient software in place, your project will take more time than necessary.

Ensuring Project Management Success

Awareness is key, and this is especially true when it comes to understanding the downfalls of project management. Now that we’re aware of these specific pitfalls, here are some measurable steps companies can take to resolve them.

Perform an Analogous Estimation for Your Budget

Estimate the cost and duration of your project before you do anything else. When you have a clear timetable and know where to allocate your resources, everything else that follows is simple. Performing a budget estimate is essential to your project’s success.

Identify Checkpoints

How do you know when you’ve reached your project’s goal? What external markers are you using to identify those goals? These “checkpoints” are specific markers that inform you and your team of your progress. Checkpoints can be fundraising goals, sponsorship relationships, marketing traction, or some other measurable identifier.

A project manager can even designate a single point of contact who’s in charge of highlighting these checkpoints. 

Create and Understand Project Relations

Know your team. Develop relationships with each project contributor and know who to contact for which item. This is the mark of a great leader, and it also creates clearer communication. Team cohesion is central to a project’s success. 

Join the Conversation

Welcome to the ASAP Circle, a community platform for peer-to-peer conversation on trending topics, professional challenges, and shared experiences. We even have designated spaces for weekly Tuesday Coffee Breaks.

Start Connecting Today!

American Society of Administrative Professionals

Producer of

APC  EA Ignite