What's The WORST Thing a PM Can Do?

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Categories: Advice

I recently posed this question on Quora, knowing that there are a thousand potential answers - all of them probably valid when you spin them the right way. However everyone has a favorite which is born out of their own personal experience, probably some tragic PM circumstance that produced a "worst case" result. 

So why bother with trying to identify each individual's "PM pet peeve"? Assuming each strong opinion is the result of some tragedy - this gives you a list of really important pitfalls to avoid - each of them THE most important in someone's eyes.

Here are a few responses from others. If you have a moment, please add your experience to the comment string...















Posted on: July 27, 2014 12:34 PM | Permalink

Comments (15)

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I remember being in a room with a dozen business leaders and client executives during a kick-off to a $3 million, 18-month project and the PM said to all of us, "this will be easy." I reminded him of that 4-months later at 3:30 AM when he had been up for the last 30 hours trying to figure out how he was going to meet his first milestones....

I just couldn't put a single answer because not only does every PM have their own "pet peeves", for me and others who work on a diverse range of projects the "worst thing" varies with type of project.

However it was still very useful to see the answers others gave - in a way this is a meta-lessons-learned thread - thanks Dave!

In fact that's just triggered what my answer would be if I HAD to pick one - and it is "Not learn from the past". Mistakes happen, and the good PM is the one who takes the worst disaster and finds something to learn from it, or better yet sees what could go wrong based on other projects he or others have done, and of course what works well in each situation, and uses this. The worst thing a PM can do is ignore such lessons.

It´s really trick think about the worst things a PM can do, once a PM needs to handle so many issues. In my view the worst things a PM can do are: 1) work without clear and detailed requirements, crazy doing always ask his price and 2) poor risk management, stakeholders like to believe things will be sorted out eventually , some will but most don’t.

The worst thing a project manager can do is: procrastinating!.
No matter if you are facing a conflict, a tough decision, a stakeholder who wants to stretch the scope, a feature that does not perform within acceptable standards ... none of that matters, what matters is the attitude and speed as you face the issue.

Failing to get proper support from the project sponsor.

Your sponsor is your lifeline to remove roadblocks, obstacles and negotiate scope, schedule, resources and quality.

This is a really good discussion point.

If I have to choose one point which is not listed here is an effective Change Management. All projects go thru a certain changes to either the scope or budget or resourcing. Not having a proper Change Management process in place can lead to the project going off track

The worst thing happens when the scope creeps. Poor requirements gathering of identifying, defining, documenting and managing the solution leads to a bad PM. It is also really important to focus on critical areas like people, process and the culture as part of the requirements gathering.

One of the worst thing a PM can do is not involve stakeholders since the initation process and not communicating them about the progress of the project.

They just manage the project ! leadership is missing

The very worst thing a PM can do is lose his/her sense of humour! No joking!

Failing to document assumptions.
Consider a construction project that omits this assumption:
"Assumption: the property owner will obtain the required permits for construction."

Plenty of great answers in this thread on other points (I like the one about keeping records - relying on one's memory doesn't scale!).

Sweeping issues under the carpet - something neophyte PMs might do in the hope they will solve themselves and that no one will notice. Project issues are not like wine - they do not get better with time. As we all know, they more often, they get worse, sometimes exponentially.

Lack of effective communication is a disaster.
One of the worst thing would be too much Email communication and missing face to face sessions.

Great points!

when managing a project, many things can go wrong. Its hard to pin point all of them but some are sure more costly than others.

Poor scope definition, lack of stakeholder engagement, feeling he can do it all alone (poor team management). Poor or improper communication too is a killer.

Great highlights, Dave!

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