Common Software Project Management Mistakes
By: Steve Miller
Very few proj ects go as planned, however, proj ects that fail often follow a pattern. Normally proj ects fail due
to issues with:
Personnel - These issues range from wrong skill sets to bad work environments.
See prior newsletter: Common Software Project Management Mistakes - Personnel Issues
Project Management - These issues relate to improper processes and techniques for managing proj ects.
Application - These are issues with the appl ication i tself.
Technology - These are issues with the technology chosen for the appl ication.
In this newsletter, we will focus on Project Management issues, we will cover the other issues in subsequent
newsletters. Below are the common proj ect management mistakes relating to Project Management:
Formalize Requirements Gathering - Too often, requirements are scribbled on a napkin -or-
communicated via phone calls. The best approach to requirements gathering is to hold Joint Appl ication
Development (JAD) sessions. JAD sessions are a set of intense meetings held of f-site where executives,
developers, and end-users define the exact requirements needed by a software solution. By holding JAD
sessions, your team can more quickly define requirements, get executive buy-in, el iminate irrelevant
requirements and reduce pol itical j ockeying between team members.
Lack of Design - Before proj ects can be estimated, they must be designed. Many teams by pass this step,
est imating the efforts without detailed knowledge of what is needed to deliver each requirement.
Poor Estimating - Another common mistake is to poorly estimate proj ects. This is done by inexperienced
proj ect managers that do not account for all tasks that need to be done or by proj ect managers that
succumb to management pressures to get the proj ect t imeline to fit a predetermined estimate.
Lack of Change Control - Change control is the process of managing changes as to ensure that decisions
are not made hastily and that the decision to add an additional feature is in the best interest of the
proj ect. If change control is missing from a proj ect, new features will be introduced at random,
j eopardizing the delivery date and quality of the software being developed.
Lack of Risk Management - The key to managing risks is to build contingency plans for risk and to build
enough time into your proj ect schedule to mi tigate risks that you do not know about.
Poor Project Communication - Studies have shown that software teams that consi stently deliver on-time
and on-budget communicate in an ef fective manner. These teams stay in contact constantly, but wisely
use each other's time during the communication process and are careful not to waste other people's time.
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