Avoiding Project Management Pitfalls


  • Allison J. McFarland


Project management, project definition document, multitasking, activity path merging, process flow chart, Force Field analysis, Gantt Chart, Student Syndrome.


In many recreation organizations, a myriad of ongoing projects are staffed by employees or volunteers working more for the good of the organization than for financial reward. These human resources constitute the backbone of most projects, and individuals who are frustrated by wasted time, last-minute assignments, disorganization, and poorly planned meetings will be reluctant to serve again in the future. The good news is that many tools are available to provide your staff with a more rewarding work environment, and your organization with greater quality and efficiency. This paper will share process management tools commonly used within the business setting to make projects more cost-effective. Included will be an introduction to project definition documents, force field analysis, Gantt charts, and process flowcharts, as well as concepts such as the “student syndrome,” multitasking, activity path merging, contingency time, and “fractional head counts”.Most would agree that the first step toward successful project management starts with the drafting of a project definition document. Without clear articulation of the project’s goals and parameters, progress can be delayed as the project parameters continue to be altered. Achieving a consensus as to which goals should take priority can be challenging. Towards this end, an analysis of project and organization strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats along with the utilization of a Force Field analysis can assist project teams in identifying, addressing, and prioritizing differing viewpoints. After defining project parameters, managers can then implement a variety of management tools to assist in the development of efficient processes and procedures. For example, Gantt Charts can be a useful graphing technique to identify parallel and sequential tasks; the estimated time needed for each task; and an overall visual representation of the project timeline. As a complementary tool, Process Flowcharts can be used to predict bottlenecks and subsequent delays in project progression. Easily implemented with any size project or project team, these tools can make the job of project manager less complicated, while achieving a higher rate of satisfaction and success for all involved.If the last project or activity you directed seemed stressful, chaotic, or less than efficient, take a few moments to become acquainted with available tools designed to increase project efficiency. Avoiding project management pitfalls through the utilization of process management strategies should provide a more enjoyable and rewarding experience for both you and your project team.





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