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Problems and solutions in Project Management


  • Poorly managed

Implement the guidance already given and stay focused on the agreed plan.

  • Lack of a solid project plan

See above - time spent now on the plan will negate a lot of problems later.

  • Poorly defined roles and responsibilities

Ensure that everyone knows their role and responsibilities – reinforce this through the tasks set and make sure that the role suits that persons skill sets.

  • Team weaknesses

This will occur in every project but as long as the project is monitored correctly at each stage this can be identified early and the dynamics of the team/ group altered to compensate.

  • Poor communication

Easily rectified, build a communication strategy into the plan – weekly updates to all stakeholders, regular meetings with recorded minutes – ensure that someone is made responsible for gathering and transmitting this information – ensure that if working with other parties that there is a clear line of communication.

  • Overruns of schedule and cost

This shouldn’t be an issue if the plan is comprehensive enough with contingency plans for any problems – regular reviews and monitoring should ensure that the issue doesn’t escalate – as above update stakeholders when an issue arises.

  • Scope creep

Don’t lose sight of the original aims and objectives – regular meetings should ensure that all the stakeholders stick to the original vision – remember what you got the funding for.

  • Ignoring project warning signs

As previously stated, monitoring and regular updates/ meetings should ensure an early warning of any issues that need to be addressed.

  • Undefined objectives and goals

Once again make sure that the initial plan knows what it wants to achieve and how it is going to do this – everybody must know what they are doing and why at all stages of the project.

  • Lack of user input

Keep the community involved through participation and community communication – you won’t create a sustainable long term project unless the end user is engaged in the process.

  • Inadequate or vague requirements

Be clear what is required and ensure that whoever is doing the task is also aware – dividing the project into clearly defined stages and tasks will help with this.

  • Unrealistic timeframes and tasks

Under promise and over deliver – this isn’t a race to finish first – the initial plan needs to be realistic and manageable – only commit to what you can definitely do – in communication with other stakeholders if they have been given roles according to specific skill sets they should be able to give a realistic  overview of the task and timeframe.

  • Insufficient resources (funding and personnel)

Under promise and over deliver again – the initial plan should look at the worst case scenario and plan to that – we have included in the guide sections on extra revenue streams/ ideas for community participation but these should be used to sustain the project not deliver it.

  • Estimates for cost and schedule are erroneous

Any potential cost should be fully researched and costed – this should then form a principle part of the plan – don’t guess – everything must be fully costed and put in the plan.

  • Lack of management commitment

You would presume that the person managing the project was part of the initial idea stage and would have a strong personal interest in it and commitment to completing it – make everyone aware at the start what is expected of them and over what space of time – if someone can no longer commit to the process you will have put in place a strong enough group with sufficient transparency and lines of communication that someone else will be able to take over – don’t allow this to go on – change personnel if you have to – every successful project need s committed guidance at all times.

  • Stakeholder conflict

It will arise and providing it is project related it may be a positive discussion that is focused on getting the best end result – make sure that any discussion is focused on the original aims and objectives – and with these in mind a resolution should be able to be found and justified to all parties.

  • Competing priorities

A clear plan will list the aims and objectives and a clearly defined stage by stage timeline to achieve them – this plan will list the priorities and as long as it is agreed and continually referred to this shouldn’t be an issue

  • Meeting end user expectations

As above – under promise and over deliver – if the original plan is realistic and this is communicated to all the stakeholders – you may be able to exceed expectations – keep the communication constant so the end user/ target group is aware of any issues, good or bad – manage the project and the expectations.

  • Bad decisions

Will happen – but providing you have in place a system of monitoring, evaluation and communication the opportunity should be there to change any decision before it is allowed to detrimentally affect the whole project – dividing the project into stages should also keep the effects of any bad decision contained.

THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS TO CONSIDER WHEN MANAGING A PROJECT

 

  • Missed Deadlines

In our experience this is one aspect of the project that is most open to creep and movement. It is vital to a project that its timeline is adhered to as any problems with this can affect all aspects of the process (funding, land permissions, contracts, sustainability etc). Make sure you have thought through what you want to do and when you want to do it – dividing the project into stages can help make this more manageable. The timescale must always consider the potential variables that may occur:

Bad weather – January to March

Holiday seasons – Bank Holidays

Delivery time for materials etc

Permissions – see below

  • Permissions

Your project may be delayed if you haven’t got all the relevant permissions in place when undertaking the work – remember to seperate this from land ownership, regardless of who owns the land certain permissions may still be required before starting. Ensure that you check that none of the following apply to the land:

Tree preservation orders

Outstanding planning approvals

Right of way issues

Conservation area limitations

Some questions worth considering regarding land ownership issues and permissions:

  • Who is the landowner of your project site?
  • Do you have permission from the landowner in writing?
  • How long does the group have agreement for public use of the land, once improved?
  • Will your project need planning permission? Check with Local Authority.
  • How will the project be maintained once completed? Is there written agreement with the landowner?
  • Who will pay for the maintenance?
  • Who has legal liability for the land?
  • Are there any special designations on the land? Such as statutory rights of way, nature conservation status, SSSI’s, conservation areas, tree preservation orders etc. Check with local Authority.
  • Is the site within a Flood Plain or near a river? You will need to check with the Environment Agency as this may affect what you can do on the land.
  • Location of statutory services/wayleaves/easements? (such as gas, electricity, water, telephone, cable)
  • Is there any potential conflict with intended developments?

Restrictions due to the Wildlife  and Countryside act 1981– ie it is an offence to fell trees during the bird nesting season, even Hedgerows are legislated for - link to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – Please don’t feel that you have to study the act – this link will merely illustrate the scope of the legislation  and some of the things you need to consider when working on any open space. Your local authority will be able to answer more specific questions and address any issues you may have.

  • Vandalism

One of the main variables on any project is the potential for vandalism – while this cannot be specifically planned for it is always worth building some sort of contingency into the timeline to account for its possibility. Here are a few things you can do to try and mitigate this potential problem:

Consult and inform widely with local user groups (schools. Youth groups etc) – they may be able to inform you of any potential problems and a project that is seen by the community as a viable and useful addition will command more respect and be better protected within the community.

Consider when to start work on the project – during school holidays could be a problem (children around in the day and later at night) and try and finish the work before a weekend or at least plan for the period when the working site may be left unattended.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list but we hope it illustrates some of the variables a managed project will inevitably face and helps you prepare to deal with whatever the project may throw at you.


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