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Project Management Failures Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Statis­tic­ally, at least 85 percent of every project is over budget to some degree. This is often due to unforeseen events beyond human control. Fortun­ately, you can sway the odds in your favor if you have an awareness of what could go wrong. By leaving room in your budget for the unexpected and developing a contin­gency plan, you can lessen the likelihood of running out of funds.

Inexpe­rience of Project Leader

Inexpe­rience of the leader of a project can mean that any aspect of it could be inadve­rtently misman­aged, including the budget. While it is true that there is a first time for every undert­aking, a project leader who is new to the respon­sib­ilities of the position may encounter more hurdles than one who is well-v­ersed in seeing a project through from inception to comple­tion. Neophyte project leaders require more guidance and oversight throughout the process, or at the very least, a mentor who can be trusted to give prudent and objective advice.

Poor Commun­ica­tio­n/M­ana­gement of Personnel

In order for a project to develop, accurate and timely commun­ication should be present in all phases. The project leader needs to express clearly what is needed and what is happening with suppliers, contra­ctors, crew/team members and admini­str­ators. Individual crew/team members likewise need to commun­icate well among themse­lves. Misund­ers­tan­dings during planning and execution lead to tasks not being carried out properly. Correcting the situation can cause time delays and budget overruns. Colleagues should keep each other updated throughout the process to help projected timelines converge and unexpected costs minimal.

Human Error

Human error ranges from an omitted or misplaced decimal point on a balance sheet to the wrong equipment or supplies being ordered. No matter what form it may take, mistakes can be costly. Most forms of human error can be mitigated by taking a moment to verify documents, orders and double­-ch­ecking any changes as they occur.

Loss Through Damage or Malfun­ction

When key equipment is broken on site, damaged during instal­lation or fails to operate as intended, it must be reordered, replaced or repaired to get the project back on track. Each of these situations can be an unexpected expense to the allotted budget. A percentage of each project budget should be set aside in advance to prevent diverting funds from budgeted needs (up to 30 percent).

Vendor Relati­onship Issues

Problems with outside contra­ctors, vendors or suppliers can impact your project budget. Use only vendors who have an excellent reputation for being reliable and skilled. Lack of profes­sio­nalism, inability to meet deadlines and shoddy work will mean locating another vendor during the project, and paying new fees to contract a replac­ement.

Employee Absent­eeism

A certain degree of absent­eeism could occur due to illness or emergency, but if it is excessive, it will impede the success of a project. The indivi­duals chosen to spearhead a project need to be fully invested personally to see it through to completion and chosen carefully by manage­ment. If employees have to be replaced mid-pr­oject, delays are likely due to the traini­ng/­lea­rning curve that the new person must undergo. If a number of staff are lost, and not replaced, completing the task at hand will be more difficult with fewer people having more duties.

Poor Workma­nship

Assigned tasks should not only be completed on time, they should also be performed well. Poor work perfor­mance requiring more than one adjustment or revision costs more money due to overtime requir­ements and can strain any budget. Having skilled and experi­enced profes­sionals on a project can make all the differ­ence.

Enviro­nmental Factors

Little can be done about inclement weather or natural disasters. A project can be sidelined unexpe­ctedly and indefi­nitely due to conditions that prevent team members from arriving on site, delay the delivery of supplies or result in partial or total loss. Recovering from this type of setback is no simple matter, but allocating money to insurance in the initial planning stages of a project is wise.

Lack of Foresight

Poor planning is respon­sible for most budget shortf­alls. Simply put, when fewer funds than necessary are allocated for a project, it is a certainty that more money will be needed to see the project through to comple­tion. Not unders­tanding what is required financ­ially for an undert­aking, from salaries to overhead costs, can lead to running out of funds in the early stages.

Poor Allocation of Resources

Budgeted funds must be used judici­ously to avoid exorbitant spending in non-vital areas. Spending too much money in one area and not enough in another can jeopardize the entire project, especially in a small business with limited funds.