Five Key Challenges That Project Managers Face – And How To Train Them To Overcome Them

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Working as a project manager is not without its challenges. Whether you are an experienced project manager or new in the field, there are a few hurdles you will have to overcome along the way. Project managers need to be able to constantly stay on their feet and ensure that their projects run smoothly with all agreed constraints on target.

Budgets, timelines and project scopes are always at the forefront of a project managers mind, and there are many things that go wrong during the process.

Although project managers have endless project management tools, multiple resources and flexible methodologies at their fingertips, there are still struggles to contend with on a daily basis. Many companies waste thousands of pounds every year in project management challenges.

Knowing what challenges project managers face and how to train them to overcome them is a vital way of helping projects get off to the best start.

Challenge One: Poor Goal Identification And Success Criteria

Successful projects require clarity, and when a project lacks clarity, it creates many management issues. A huge number of projects will fail because of poor planning and not having a clearly defined goal can cause major problems for project managers and their teams. A project manager needs to be able to come up with a way to quantify a project’s progress. This is usually done using a set of clear objectives and goals.

Having well-identified goals will mean that project managers can back up their vision to management teams and customers when necessary. Setting these goals isn’t always an easy task and can be a challenge for project managers. Many project managers don’t know what to expect from the project, and so goal setting is a big ask.

Solution

Project managers need to be trained to use popular approaches for goal setting, such as CLEAR or SMART. These can help them to create effective goals right at the start of a project that will follow them through to the end.

Setting goals for project management should revolve around developing a proposal and then setting objectives to help achieve the goal.

Challenge Two: Miscommunication Or A Lack Of Communication

Communication issues are one of the most common causes of unfinished tasks, missed deadlines and workplace conflicts. Whether it is poor communication skills or a lack of communication altogether, any kind of communication issues can be a huge challenge for a project manager.

For most project managers, their communication skills will be their greatest asset. Project managers spend their days asking questions, giving instructions and seeking further information. All of these require open and clear communication among themselves and their teams.

Successful communication leads to successful projects, and a communication breakdown is one of the biggest challenges a project manager can face.

Solution

Project managers must be trained to use their communication skills to their advantage. It is essential that they encourage communication between project members and set up easy ways for teams to inform each other on progress.

A project manager needs to learn to be transparent, open and upfront with everyone involved, in order to make sure that communication is successful.

Challenge Three: Unrealistic Deadlines

If a deadline is simply impossible, then project managers are just setting themselves up to fail. This is a struggle that many project managers have as they need to carefully balance customer expectations as well as the quality of the project.

Some project managers will choose to rush a project in order to meet unrealistic deadlines, but this often results in the end product being riddled with issues. An effective project manager should have the capability to negotiate realistic project deadlines and be able to properly prioritise the tasks at hand.

Solution

Training project managers to work with Agile methodologies can help them to deal with the challenges of unrealistic deadlines. When using Agile project management methods, the amount of work completed in one sprint is collectively decided among all stakeholders.

Project managers should also have adequate training so that they are able to voice their concerns about deadlines and be able to appropriately plan to meet deadlines.

Challenge Four: Scope Creep

Scope creep happens naturally with every project, but it can cause huge challenges for project managers. Common occurrences of scope creep are when a client asks for additional functionality within the project for the same budget or changes their requirements during the process.

These problems often arise because clients aren’t good at defining their project requirements, and as it progresses their vision changes and evolves.

It is only natural, but project managers need to be prepared to deal with it quickly and effectively. Otherwise, scope creep can result in the entire project failing or the client being unhappy.

Solution

Project managers must have the skills to deal with scope creep and deliver their projects in budget and on time. This often involves setting clear schedules and outlining each stage in detail, making sure everyone involved in the project is on the same page when it comes to requirements, and setting clear project goals.

Challenge Five: Budget Problems

Many project managers face issues over the budget of a project. If a project overruns, it can end up costing more than planned, or ultimately fail because there isn’t adequate budget available.

A project manager needs to be able to effectively cost manage every project to avoid any budget issues.

Solution

Training on cost management and proper planning is essential for helping project managers overcome budget challenges. If appropriate project management methodologies and practices are adopted, then a project manager should be able to make realistic assumptions when it comes to budget and costings.

Here at TSG Training, we offer various project management training courses to help project managers learn how to overcome these challenges. Popular training courses include our APMG Agile Project Management Foundation and APMG Agile Project Management Practitioner.

To find out more about our training courses, we offer free online webinars such as the New Practitioner in Agile Quality Webinar Recording. This webinar provides an overview of the new course and explains how it can benefit project managers.

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