How project managers can tackle problems

Project manager multitasking - ToolsHero

Project managers experience in practice issues or problems that influence performance and effectiveness. 

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff of CIO wrote an interesting article about experts how they identify the most common (and frustrating) issues project managers must constantly tackle and what steps they can take to avoid or minimise these problems.


The main question for her research was “What separates the good, or the great, project managers from the just so-so?”

The answer on this question is how they handle problems when they arise and they prevent them.

Here are the seven of the biggest (or most common) problems that project managers face and the tips of experts how to anticipate, avoid or mitigate them.

1. Unclear tasks, ownership and responsibilities of project team members

Good project managers let team members know, up front, who is responsible for what – and clearly lay out expectations.

Crucial is setting up a good decision-making structure, i.e. a RACI chart.

Each stakeholder gets a clear label on asks, ownership and responsibilities.

2. Key persons pulled of the project

How good project managers handle resource-related issues is balancing supply (resources) and demand (break/fix issues alongside the project).

By using a project management system that provides resource visibility and forecasting tools, project managers can quickly make decisions and re-allocate resources.

An another way to deal with team members being pulled in multiple directions, is convincing the management that removing a vital team member could delay the project (or worse).

It helps to discuss this, based on a fact-based impact assessment, so the facts and figures speak for themselves.

3. Meeting deadline

To avoid missing or shifting deadlines,  assign team members specific deadlines for their parts of the project and give dates much earlier than actually needed.

It also helps if you can break the project into manageable chunks, or milestones (each chunk time spaced enough to make (needed) changes before delivery).

4. Scope creep

Changes affecting requirements almost always stop projects in their tracks.

Documenting changes, validations, assessments of impact, find a solution and have the change request approved before executing the solution.

Be proactive on risk and quality management to minimize surprises and create a clear aligned scope.

5. Not being aware there is a problem or potential problem.

To prevent (potential) problems, set up weekly meetings on status updates of activities.

Check during these meetings time-line achievements, potential issues and prepared countermeasures.

There are also tools like collaborative task tracking software that can help managing a project in time.

6. Managing and collaborating with team members in different locations and time zones.

Managing a decentralised team can be a challenge. Having a mobile collaboration tool can help you.

Instead of just basic email access and small file attachments sharing, these tools make real-time collaboration without restrictive technical limitations.

7. Lack of communication, or hostility, among team members

To prevent the lack of communication or hostility, a project manager checks in regularly with team members, either by phone or in person, to see how things are going – and if there are any professional or personal issues that could affect the project, which need to be addressed. This increases trust and team effort.

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Vincent van Vliet
About the Author

Vincent van Vliet is co-founder and responsible for the content and release management. Together with the team Vincent sets the strategy and manages the content planning, go-to-market, customer experience and corporate development aspects of the company.

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