Project management defines an altogether different experience for every professional. Different projects have different requirements when it comes to an approach or framework, the resources, budgeting and even documentation.
However, despite the evolution of project management strategies and frameworks, projects often get overshadowed by practices and methodologies that may not contribute as efficiently as assumed.
Due to some uncertainties - or shall we say project management myths - teams often miss out on implementing best practices and approaching their projects in a truly effective manner.
I tried finding out some of the common myths that exist when it comes to project management. These are the 7 most common myths I found:
1. Project Managers can fix everything
No, project managers cannot have a fix for every single issue.
Moira Alexander is the author of LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership and the founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group with more than 20 years of experience in business and project management.
According to Alexander, although project managers may be experts and keep the workflow in progress and teams and stakeholder sin sync, they are not magicians. This is why it is important for project managers, stakeholders and sponsors to be flexible enough to identify when a task or a project cannot go further and put an end to it instead of spending more resources trying to fix it.
2. Agile is the best
Agile has proven to be very effective than other frameworks for most teams. However, it is not the ultimate solution to each project. Bola Adesope is a seasoned management and transformation consultant. According to Bola, both methodologies, Agile and traditional Waterfall have their own strengths and weaknesses. There is no good or bad approach. Instead, each project requires a tailored approach depending on various factors, such as client requirements and feasibility.
3. You can use a template to manage all projects
Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all in project management. There is no one fixed method for all projects. According to Moira Alexander, every project is unique and can be affected by many internal or external factors, including timeline, work pattern, available resources and culture.
Even slight alterations can result in significant repercussions at later stages in a project development cycle. For this reason, every project needs to be planned and executed differently. Applying the exact same approach, techniques, tools and work style does not guarantee success.
4. Risk management guarantees 100% risk-free projects
Risks are a part of every project; big or small. Effective project management comprises of efficient risk management. This may include identifying potential risks, their corresponding impact and likelihood as well as how to mitigate these risks.
According to Bola Adesope, usually the risks identified and addressed earlier in the project cycle can be resolved more efficiently with lesser chances of resurfacing. However, risks continue to occur throughout the project cycle and need to be consistently monitored and regulated.
Even following the exact methods recommended in the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK, 2013) cannot guarantee a successful project. It can, however, improve the team assessment and focus throughout the project development cycle.
5. Project Management is easy
Lauren Ebsary is an experienced project consultant. Ebsary came across people who believe project management can be accomplished by just about anyone. However, there is a lot more required in handling projects other than professional skills. Each situation calls for a different set of expertise and approach to handle a project. For this reason, to be an effective project manager, a professional project management certification is required whether it involves project members or project management career-oriented people.
6. Planning is unproductive
Planning is an important part of any project.
For some people, it seems more efficient to just get on with it. According to Paula Martin, CEO, International Matrix Management Institute, this myth has infected most of the organizations due to a belief that "real work is implementing or building something and planning is just that upfront stuff we don't have time to bother with.” She adds that in reality, planning is a significant part and it ensures everyone is heading in the right direction. It promotes accountability and in essence, implementing with a plan is wiser.
7. There is no room for change
From the inception of a project to its delivery, requirements can change at any stage. This calls for effective change management strategies. Hear it from Change Management Consultant, educator and author, Paul Roberts. According to Roberts, a lot of time and effort goes into identifying a project, establishing the funding and time for delivery.
This makes us reluctant to accept any change. However, this can backfire as when we fail to identify the need for change or to accommodate it, it can result in ill-timed and lower quality deliverables. He adds that although projects should be carefully navigated from the beginning, it is also imperative that there is room for managing change if need be.