Project Management: Four Problems to Avoid

Written By | Time Management | March 28th, 2011 | 34 Comments »

cost schedule performanceIt is important that you never trust to luck when you plan a project. Hope is not a strategy. Remember the words of Napoleon, when he was asked if he believed in luck. He said, “Yes, I believe in luck. I believe in bad luck. And I believe that I will always have it, so I plan accordingly.”

There are four main problems in project management. Each of them can be avoided by taking the time to think carefully before embarking on a new project.

1. Not Allowing Enough Time

The first is not allowing enough time to complete a multi-task job. This is the primary reason why projects fail and people’s careers get sidetracked or torpedoed. They hope for the best, trust to luck and don’t allow a sufficient cushion of time to complete every step of the project. As a result, the project fails.

2. Assuming the Best

The second problem is assuming that everything will work out all right. As Alex McKenzie said, “Errant assumptions lie at the root of every failure.” Never assume that everything will work out all right. Assume that you are going to have problems. Allow yourself sufficient time and resources to solve those problems and keep the project on schedule.

3. Rushing at the End

The third problem in project management is when the project team ends up rushing at the end. When you rush to complete a project, because you have run out of time or money, you almost invariably make mistakes and do poor quality work that you have to go back and correct later. It actually takes less time to finish a project correctly if you work at it slowly and steadily and do it properly in the first place.

4. Trying to Do Several Things at Once

The fourth problem in project management is trying to do several things at once, and you ending up doing nothing well. You either take on too much at a time, including too many responsibilities yourself, or you assign too many responsibilities to other people. In either case, various parts of the project fall through the cracks and sometimes all the effort is lost. Do things one at a time, and do each thing well before moving to the next task.

How to Avoid These Problems

Plan Your Projects Visually

One of the most powerful methods for designing and project managing is called “Storyboarding.” It was originally developed by the Walt Disney Corporation to plan cartoons and movies and was eventually used in every part of the business.

On a storyboard, you create a visual image of the project, mounted on the wall, so that everyone can see it and comment on it. You begin with a large corkboard. You then get boxes of pins or thumbtacks and stacks of 3 x 5 and 5 x 8 index cards. Get several felt pens with different colors. You are then ready to begin.

Across the top of the storyboard, write the major parts of the project plan in one or two words, on 5 x 8 index cards, with the colored felt pens. These are very much like the titles of the chapters of a book, and are called “headers.” You may have anywhere from three to 10 different headers as the main parts of the project.

Under each of the headers, you place 3 x 5 index cards. You list an individual step in the completion of the task on each of the 3 x 5 cards.

When you are finished, you will have created a visual representation of the entire project, showing what needs to be done, and in what order. You can then write the name of the person who is responsible for each of the jobs on the card listing the job.

With this layout, you can move headers and job descriptions around. You can change their order and schedule. You can change the person who is responsible and the deadline.

You can also use storyboarding with a sheet of paper. You can write a series of larger boxes across the top and then write a series of steps in each of those tasks in boxes underneath. The more visual you can make the project and the project plan; the easier it is for you to see relationships between the various tasks, and to make whatever changes are necessary to assure that you complete the project on time.

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Also, read my post “Develop Excellent Time Management Skills” for more valuable content on this topic.

About Brian Tracy – Brian Tracy is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian’s goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on google+, facebook, and twitter.

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34 Comments

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  7. Tri Hoang says on August 12, 2011 at 5:22 pm:

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  8. T. Stephen says on May 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm:

    Interesting to me

  9. Salman says on May 7, 2011 at 5:16 am:

    Hi Brian, this is very good article and I want to share this article on the website http://planningguild.com/blog/. Kindly permit, so that Project Planners can benefit your worth reading article.

  10. Rodger life coaching says on May 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm:

    I love the suggestion to use storyboarding as a visual way to plan projects.

    It’s amazing that this idea developed by Disney for planning animations can be applied in so many different areas.

  11. Godfrey says on April 29, 2011 at 8:18 am:

    One word ‘Thanks”

  12. Mehrdad says on April 25, 2011 at 3:50 am:

    I think The worst part of the project plan is its Financial part when dealing with forcasting the cost of the raw material as well as sales forcast, particularly when your project is supposed to be executed amid global financial instability. Then bearing numerous risk factors and their impacts’ range in a project, will make us exposed to heavy financial loss which can not be tolerable for shareholders or business owners.

  13. DAVE says on April 22, 2011 at 4:42 pm:

    I like the way you have established the importance of the use of storyboarding with a sheet of paper to make the project and the project plan more visual.

  14. Davies M M says on April 9, 2011 at 2:22 pm:

    Brian you are great Lecturer, I really like your advice on how to “Plan Your Projects Visually”. I have been a Project Manager for several years, but your advice here has really helped me understand the power of visualisation and indeed a step forward in the way I manage projects.

  15. Joe says on April 7, 2011 at 7:57 am:

    Just thought you might want to use this gem…straight from Eli Goldratt

  16. Increasing Workplace Productivity with Bojan says on April 5, 2011 at 6:33 am:

    Also one of the problem would be handling too many projects at the same time. I have no clue how to handle all the things that I am doing now, without a clear and defined to do list.

  17. Guadalupe Rodriguez says on April 2, 2011 at 7:56 pm:

    Thank you for the advise. I have directed more than 500 web projects and the main issue is about communication and relationships. It is not enough to draw a perfect plan because the human factor is really amazing.

  18. Justin says on April 1, 2011 at 11:13 am:

    it’s to easy to hope for the best and just let things unfold without any preparation.

  19. Abdulmajeed says on March 29, 2011 at 10:36 pm:

    Intresting, Thank you very much.
    Also I remember the six P’s formula (Proper Prior Plan Prevents Poor Performance).

  20. Lew Sauder says on March 29, 2011 at 11:19 am:

    Great advice Brian. I would also add “Be Proactive”. Don’t allow tasks within the project to get behind. Otherwise it starts snowballing to where more and more tasks get behind and there is no saving it.
    Lew Sauder, Author, Consulting 101: 101 Tips For Success in Consulting.

  21. Frederick Pearce, Business coach says on March 29, 2011 at 9:48 am:

    This and other planning techniques are common in the construction industry where coordination for sequential completion of work elements by different trades is the norm. It is not so common in the world of general business and adopting visual planning like this would benefit a whole host of companies, large and small. Well done, Brian, for drawing attention to this.

  22. Daniel M. Wood says on March 29, 2011 at 8:09 am:

    Great advice Brian.
    I have seen many try and fail doing to much at the same time or trying to take shortcuts.

    Like you say “Every minute planning saves 10 minutes in execution” that is the shortcut!

    Make a great plan, stick to it and work hard and smart to make it a success.

    I like what you said about luck as well. You can make plans that require you to work hard, but making plans that require luck means you will only succeed with your plans once in a while, which ruins the whole exercise.

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  24. Joanne says on March 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm:

    In today’s global environment, being able to post a storyboard for all to see is no longer a viable option. You need to find a way to share this information with everyone in a virtual environment, but more importantly, you need to make sure you can communicate the vision and that your message is heard and understood.

  25. Jonathan Parsons says on March 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm:

    I have done plenty of vision boards, never a “project” board before? Makes total sense, thanks for the insight.

  26. chukwumaobi godwin says on March 28, 2011 at 12:19 pm:

    Mr. Brian, I think after reading this blog I would want other friends of mine to also share your rich experience. I am sure to share it. Thank you.

  27. Tomasz Guta says on March 28, 2011 at 11:59 am:

    The method you sir are talking about is basically a less complex ( and therefore less powerfull) version of a highly helpful tool called MindMaps, created by Tony Buzan – an english thinker and expert on the field of the brain and self development. I strongly advice people to read his book on mindmaps and the whole mind mapping concept. Anyway, I think it was another great article about self development. Thank you very much for your precious advice, cheers :)

  28. Frank Kenny says on March 28, 2011 at 11:37 am:

    Good points Brian. I have always enjoyed your teaching.

    I often try to do everything myself even though I am not great at everything. Delegating is risky but we don’t succeed alone.

    Thank you for the pointers.

  29. Faraz Davani says on March 28, 2011 at 11:31 am:

    Sure, if you cannot clarify a plan you probably cannot implement it as well.
    BTW, Tony Buzan’s Mind Map software is an inovative tool to visualize Work Breakdown Structure and task schedule in a project plan.

  30. Maxim says on March 28, 2011 at 11:16 am:

    It’s a very interesting thing. I think that I’ll try to apply that.


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