Project managers know their jobs can be extremely rewarding, but as projects become more complex their roles can become very demanding and frustrating. These complex projects require hard work, long hours (and countless coffee refills!), and an exceptional amount of determination and patience. We have compiled a list of project managers’ most frequently cited frustrations in the hope that it will help you combat these challenges if you ever face them.
- Administrative tasks
- Vendor related tasks
- Inefficient systems and processes
- Last-minute changes
- Virtual or multinational teams
- Sharing resources
- Dependency on others
- Lack of control over budgets
- Late or incorrect reports
- Inaccurate, unrealistic project schedules
Solutions to Project Manager Woes
1. Administrative tasks— A necessary evil that plagues project managers everywhere. These administrative tasks can consist of paper work, maintaining time sheets, preparing meeting agendas, sending out follow-ups, so on and so forth; but that’s only just scratching the surface of a project manager’s potential responsibilities.
2. Vendor related tasks— Many people don’t realize that project managers have to handle a variety of vendor related tasks. These tasks can include dealing with contractors, negotiating rates and policies, or dealing with unions. Unions can be the hardest to deal with, as they have changing rates based on time of year, mandatory breaks and worker holidays. While no one is arguing the benefit of unions, they can cause frustrations for project managers. Critical activities may have to be placed on hold because a vital worker needs to take their mandatory break – this then affects the project manager’s capability to keep the project on time and within budget.
3. Inefficient systems and processes— Despite the overwhelmingly fast improvements to technology that exist in our culture, many businesses still fail to adopt modern PM/PPM management tools. Countless companies manage their projects using Excel spreadsheets and static MS Project files. These out-dated systems do nothing to help the project manager and are often riddled with mistakes that can create serious problems in the long run.
4. Last-minute changes— Project managers hate to be surprised by a last-minute change – particularly if it’s something that could have been discussed at an earlier time. If feedback is received late then the project manager may be unaware of potentially vital project changes that need to be made to the project. Of course, not all project changes are vital; some are simply something that would be nice to implement. It is when these changes are suggested by management that one must deal with the frustrating discussion of scope versus time versus budget. At the end of the day something has to give – after all project managers are not magicians.
5. Virtual or multinational teams— There are countless benefits associated with these teams, but there are also plenty of challenges that go along with those benefits. Trying to schedule a meeting across multiple time zones is torturous for many project managers. Besides the task of managing multiple time zones, it is also important for the entire project team to be aware of the cultural differences associated with each team member. What may seem an innocent statement or gesture in one culture can cause the utmost offense in another. Multinational teams sometimes lead to language barriers. As language used in a conversation becomes more technical, the problems associated with a language barrier can become more prevalent.
6. Sharing resources— While we all learned the importance of sharing in kindergarten it can feel far more frustrating when managing large scale projects. The majority of companies don’t have an endless pool of resources for project managers to dip into, and therefore project managers must coordinate and learn to share the resources between their various projects. Unfortunately keeping track of whose using which resources when can become a logistical nightmare. Double-booking can cause mayhem and arguments – and ultimately affects the likelihood of the projects being completed on time and within budget.
7. Dependency on others— Trust doesn’t come easily to everyone, particularly for people who like to be in control. Relying on others in order to achieve success can be daunting for many project managers. No one is capable of delivering a project on their own, no matter how much they’d like that to be possible; therefore they must have faith in their project teams’ capabilities to achieve the goals and complete the project.
8. Lack of control over budgets— Budgets are an integral part of project manager, yet often the project manager has no control over what a budget will be. Usually the project manager receives a budget before finishing the concept phase; they must then base their entire project around this number while still managing to complete the entire scope of the project on time. While budgets are necessary, it can be far less frustrating if the project manager has a say in what the final budget will look like.
9. Late or incorrect reports— Accurate reports are essential to the success of a project. Project managers rely on their team to deliver accurate and timely reports, because ideally they want to spend as little time as possible checking the reports before presenting them. If reports are consistently inaccurate then a project manager is forced to spend time reviewing the reports instead of analyzing the data and determining a strategy for moving forward.
10. Inaccurate, unrealistic project schedules— In order to effectively manage projects, project managers need accurate and up-to-date schedules. As the team completes their work a project manager needs updated versions of the project schedule – unfortunately without an integrated project management system this can be more difficult. Analyzing a schedule that is out of date may lead the project manager to make bad decisions, ultimately derailing the success of the project.
What’s most upsetting about many of these problems is that they can easily be solved using better project management systems. ARES PRISM is capable of managing projects far more efficiently resulting in integrated budgets and schedules, clean and accurate reports, effective management of project changes, and easier communication between team members. While a project manager will always be faced with challenges, it is possible to make their life easier using ARES PRISM.
Do These PM Challenges Ring A Bell?
If decentralized spreadsheets, time-consuming month-end reporting, and/or increasingly complex projects sound familiar, check out our case study “ROI of an Integrated Cost Management Solution at a Mid-Sized Pipeline Company“. This case study shares how a mid-sized pipeline company in North America chose ARES PRISM over spreadsheet data entry to effectively manage budget cost, increase volume project capacity, and reduce time spent on month-end reporting and forecasting analysis.
Interested in learning more about how other companies use ARES PRISM? Visit our Resource Center where you can download industry and customer case studies.