- Certification Surfing. Many in IT use certification or “guru” organizations as a shortcut to hiring key project staff. While a PMP or other certification may be nice, the person sporting a raft of letters after their name may be an exceptionally poor project manager. If you have a critical project with significant money and time at stake, take the time to vet candidates for key positions in person. The cost and time required far outweigh even a few days lost to poor management once the project is in full swing.
- Focusing on Deliverables. Many of the project management methodologies focus on the wrong thing, so-called “deliverables” that are generally supporting documentation or ancillary tasks that do not directly relate to the business objectives of the project. When deliverables become disconnected from business objectives, you can easily get into a situation where the project is 99% complete from a deliverables perspective, but 0% complete in actually meeting the core business goals of the project. Ensure that projects are measured and tracked on objectives that are “MAD:” Measurable, Actionable and Dollar-based. While a functional spec or technical document may move you towards a business objective, it should not be used in reporting the project’s completion until the underlying business goal (getting sign-off on a prototype, resolving a process question, hiring appropriate staff, etc.) is complete.
- Postponing Decisions. While postponing decisions is often done in the name of “keeping our options open,” the longer you postpone a critical decision, the fewer options you actually end up with. To make a project effective, ensure that decisions are made in a timely manner, and that the actual decision making process is transparent and limited to key parties. While anyone can have an opinion, the actual decision should be made by a group that is specified in advance, otherwise you will spend weeks soliciting opinions and building consensus. With high-dollar burn rates, a good decision today is often cheaper and equally effective in the long run than a great decision a month from now.