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The most common pitfalls in project management and how to avoid them

When collaborating with independent workers on projects, there are so many factors to consider. From planning to execution and delivery, it can be tricky to get everything to run smoothly, but there are some common pitfalls in project management that can and should be avoided.

In this article, we’re going to be covering 6 of the most common mistakes in project management when collaborating with freelancers or contractors, and what you can do to streamline your working processes so that your projects are always delivered efficiently and effectively.

Project management pitfall #1: Project underestimation

Project underestimation is probably one of the biggest mistakes in project management, and the reason projects overrun. When you don’t quite get the schedule or budget right, this can throw everything off halfway down the line. Not scoping the project correctly is ultimately what causes delays in completion and overspending.

In order to avoid the common project management mistake of underestimating the scope of the project, it’s really important to encourage collaboration amongst your independent workers and the rest of the team. Make sure you’ve got a project specialist who can clearly evaluate and forecast the budget of the project to account for any potential overruns and that everyone involved is included in the planning stages so that everyone is kept in the loop.

Project management pitfall #2: Not having the right delivery team

Having the right team of freelancers and contractors can be a crucial part of ensuring your project is delivered on time and to standard. But if you have the wrong people on board, whether that be contractors who are not quite the right fit in terms of experience or suppliers who just don’t share the same attitudes and values as you, then you’re much more likely to face challenges, mistakes, and delays.

Again, the solution here is really to take your time to get to know your team and work collaboratively. Make sure you vet third-party suppliers and get to understand their drive and interest in working with you, and have deeper conversations with independent workers to find out more about their experience and why they want to work with you. Collaboration is about more than just a transaction, so take the time to get to know people first and you could avoid some major project management mistakes in doing so.

Project management pitfall #3: Resistance to change

As a project develops, the direction or desired outcome may change. This is very common in projects and not a bad thing by any means. But when the scope of the project changes, this often means more time and more input required from those working on the project. Organizations must bear in mind that when this happens, an extra fee will often be required.

While revisions are usually no extra cost, freelancers and contractors won’t always make big changes for free. Therefore, make sure you have plenty of wiggle room in the budget if you think there could be alterations or big changes needed later down the line. To avoid this common project management budgeting mistake, it’s always important to discuss and get clear on the number of revisions freelancers will do before an additional cost is incurred. Not being open to the possibility of changes down the line will ultimately result in bigger delays and more overspending.

Project management pitfall #4: Lack of communication

What most of these common project management pitfalls come down to is lack of communication, and so really it is one of the most important things to consider when delivering a project. Many companies find themselves working in silos, with each team not knowing what the other is doing. Not communicating how the project work is going throughout the process is one of the biggest causes of delay. This can happen if the initial briefing was not clear enough and there are misunderstandings about the work that needs to be done.

The easiest way to avoid this common mistake in project management is to keep the line of communication open at all times. Make sure briefing is done thoroughly and that you build a relationship where everyone feels comfortable to ask questions where necessary. This will save a lot of time and hassle and it makes for a much nicer working environment in general.

Project management pitfall #5: Unrealistic expectations and deadlines

One of the most common project planning and management mistakes is not setting realistic deadlines. While we all want things done quickly, trying to get projects pushed out of the door faster than is humanly possible is setting yourself up for failure, but so is setting deadlines too far in the future. A project with a deadline that is too long allows time for overthinking and nit-picking that will leave you going round in circles and unhappy with the final product.

Depending on the size of the project, breaking it down into smaller chunks with milestones along the way will help both the freelancer and the organization keep track of the work being done, and ensure greater productivity with more realistic, achievable deadlines.

Project management pitfall #6: Poorly defined objectives

Projects will easily overrun if nobody is really clear on the objectives. Most freelancers have come across clients at some point who have no real idea what it is they want to achieve, and while this can be incredibly frustrating, it’s also not the end of the world - as long as you have good communication and collaboration.

Well-defined project objectives that are specific, attainable, and measurable will ensure you get what you want from your team and that everyone is happy with what they are doing. Make sure you chat with your independent workers to build a clear vision for what you want to achieve together. Most freelancers and contractors will be happy to give their professional input, and it makes it much easier for them to get on with the work once a clear brief has been formed.

So they are some of the most common project management pitfalls and how to avoid them. Sometimes, issues arise that are out of anyone’s control, but by taking care and consideration of the points mentioned here, you’ll set yourself up for a successful project from start to finish. For more of our great tips for project management, check out our 4 do’s and dont’s for managing service providers.

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