August 25, 2017   |   3min read

How to Make Your Project Fail in 5 Easy Steps?

‘Teamwork makes the dream work’. With highly motivated people on board and properly set up environment everything should go well, right? There is no one way that a project manager should follow in order to achieve success. In our agile world, each project is unique, people and their expectations are diverse and the environment tends to change quickly. So let’s focus on the aspects that can be risky or can lead us to a project failure.

Project goal? Well, let’s figure it out later

What is the project goal? What are we doing? Those are the questions that definitely have to be addressed before a project starts and updated during the project. Make sure that the team knows what are the short-term and long-term project goals. Otherwise, it will be seen as nothing more than a regular arduous task. Remember to emphasize priorities and goals at the beginning of the project but also—later on. Think of the creative ways of reminding your team about them—sometimes printing the sprint plan and keeping in sight may be better than keeping them online only.

Be client, process or team oriented only

Picking only one or two of the above-mentioned approaches will always affect the other that was left. Likewise the project management triangle, you can have one thing at the expense of another. Proper balance is the key here. Tailor the process with the team and the client in order to fully fit your and their needs. Remember to constantly review your actions verifying both clients’ and team’s satisfaction. The client shows up to the demos, is truly interested in what you present and last but not least, regularly pays your invoices? Team members are happy and satisfied, proudly listing all the things during regular stand up that they managed to do? You are definitely going in the right direction.

Being a classic bottleneck

The bottleneck can be either human or process related, but in our case let’s stick to people only. How many people in your team are decision-makers? If there’s only one, then you have a serious problem. Imagine that this person is out of the office or unavailable—work stops since no one is allowed to make a decision. The group of people (team) will always organize itself. The leader’s role is to create boundaries and environment for team members to stick with. Of course, the most sensitive decisions will still be made by the leader but certainly not all of them. Have courage and learn to delegate reasonably.

Don’t mention it. It’s obvious.

Communication is the king so be sure that you both understand and are understood. If something is obvious to you, you can’t assume that it will be the same for your interlocutors. There are 3 things you should remember while communicating with your team.

  1. Adjust to your audience
  2. Ask questions and paraphrase a lot
  3. Summarize to make sure everybody is on the same page.

Keep a tight rein on your team

“Keep me posted”. “I will check it myself”. Does it ring a bell? This type of management results in motivation loss and decreases team spirit. Leaders should rather keep a finger on the pulse smartly, being available every time team actually needs them to be. Rather than sharing tasks, try sharing responsibilities. Creative people perform much better if they are subject owners. Allow team members to learn from their mistakes. If they fail, they will put much more effort to avoid them in future.

The way to success

Following these simple rules may help you avoid some common mistakes. We know that each project is different and requires a different approach but remember that agile project management is based on a collaborative effort and teamwork. Setting the project’s goal and reminding about it in a creative way, keeping the balance between client, process and team, delegating, communicating and sharing responsibilities rather than tasks will definitely help to achieve success.Let us know what are your best practices to share! Good luck!

And if you want to know more about communication, check out The Top 15 Most Effective Communication Techniques and Strategies

Sławomir Andrian

Director of Delivery

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