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Handling Key Project Management Challenges by Setting Right Priorities

Eric McConnell
July 13, 2010

How to manage problems in a project environment through priorities

Key Project Management ChallengesKey project management challenges are those obstacles that prevent successful completion of the project, and one of the efficient ways to remove the obstacles is to apply right PM priorities to tasks and objectives of the project. Key PM challenges do not allow moving the project forward and delivering expected results. An ability of the project manager to solve key PM problems and issues by defining right PM priorities will let the project to be accomplished on time and as expected. In this article we tried to break the myth of unsolvable challenges and show you what basic steps can be take to apply right priorities.

When Do the Challenges Arise?

There are organizations (like ESI International) specializing in researching key PM challenges and identifying what actually makes things happen. Recently MyMG Team had an opportunity to talk to one of the senior PM researchers in ESI International who mentioned that there were at least 10 areas in which project issues and problems usually arose. The surveys organized under the leadership of that PM researcher have proven that the challenges typically arise when:

  • Managing more than two projects at once (particular to PM offices)
  • Responding to organizational and environmental changes that have an impact on the project
  • Tracking progress and reviewing results of the project
  • Establishing teamwork and group collaboration
  • Managing communication with team members and stakeholders
  • Improving strategic planning and analysis
  • Implementing any innovations
  • Managing risks and implementing risk responding strategies
  • Dealing with cultural issues
  • Changing requirements trying to increase effectiveness while reducing costs

The listed situations are typical to most projects. Knowing how to solve the key project management issues in the typical situations will allow project managers to find ways to avoid failure and increase the probably of successful work completion. One of the ways to handle key project management challenges refers to setting right project management priorities. Let’s consider this way in detail.

Right Priorities

In order to avoid any PM disaster, the manager needs to be good at carrying out the process of strategic project planning. There are several options that can help the manager run the process. The first option refers to hiring a PM consulting firm that will professionally carry out the analysis of project management activities to reveal any disproportions caused by key project management problems and then apply problem solving solutions to eliminate the disproportions.

The second option is much affordable and requires no considerable money investments in detecting and handling key project management challenges. The option refers to using the best management skills of the project manager in combination with project management software to carry out an effective project management strategic planning process. Such software will let the manager use his skills and competencies to plan project activities and tasks by setting right priorities\. Actually the art of managing PM priorities answers the major question: “How to Make Things Happen?” This means the difference between successful project management and failure is that the manager perfectly knows how to set right priorities to achieve higher effectiveness and address key PM challenges.

The idea behind the way of using right project management priorities is based on the assumption that project management effectiveness is considerable reduced when members of the project team feel confused about what the goals and what tasks to do first. The team wastes too much time and effort on finding out right priorities for their goals and tasks, so the project progress is slowed and project management teamwork is inefficient. By setting right priorities, the project manager resolves the conflicts and shows the team the right sequence of tasks and the right hierarchy of goals.(You can learn more on this topic here: PM Guidelines)

Here are several basic steps that can help you set right priorities to resolve the conflicts and handle key PM challenges:

  • At the initiation stage of your project, create a list of priorities to be met at project completion. Such a priorities list should include the major goals to be achieved and the key tasks to be executed.
  • Apply the priorities list to the process of task planning. Each task in your project should be subordinated to your prioritized goals and tasks, so you need to set right PM priorities per project task considering the priorities list.
  • Apply the priorities list to the project schedule. Project time should be scheduled considering the major goals and tasks outlined in the list of priorities.
  • Share your priorities list with the team and then assign all project tasks to the team. When your team is aware of right PM priorities, it will do the tasks in the right order, without wasting time and reducing project management effectiveness.
  • Keep track of the project progress and regularly review the status of the major goals and tasks. Adherence to right priorities should be reviewed on a regular basis.

By means of project management software, the project manager can follow the steps and set right project management priorities, define the major goals and tasks, and keep the project progress on track. Then key project management challenges will be successfully handled.

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