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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 7

By: Wes Balakian

Feb 13, 2019 229 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Gold-plating the Deliverables

Most project managers want to placate the customer. However, there are limits as to how far the project manager should go. Gold-plating the deliverables after the scope has been agreed to can be very costly. In addition, the customer might be led to believe that they can get these gold-plated “add-ons” for free on future projects because the new standard had been set. Do not fall into this habit as it will inevitably will come back to haunt you.


Read mistake #6 >>

Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 6

By: Wes Balakian

Feb 6, 2019 258 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Failing to Share Accountability with Functional Managers

In the early years of project management, project managers possessed a command of technology. During staffing activities, project managers negotiated for specific resources which were then placed under the technical direction of the PM rather than the functional manager. The functional manager still retained administrative control over the resources. Today, project managers have just an understanding of technology and therefore negotiate with functional managers for deliverables rather than people.

When negotiating for deliverables, the functional resources still remain under the direct supervision and control of the functional manager. Under this scenario, the functional managers must be willing to share responsibility for the success with the project manager.

Inexperienced project managers believe that they have single person accountability and responsibility for the project’s success. It is a mistake for the project manager not to share this responsibility with the functional managers. Sometimes, executive support is necessary to enforce this shared accountability because it might not be part of the corporate culture.


Read mistake #5 >>

Read mistake #7 >>

Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 5

By: Wes Balakian

Jan 29, 2019 370 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Ignoring Problems

All projects have problems. Inexperienced project managers believe that sufficient time exists to solve these problems only to discover that the costs of correcting these problems later on in the project life cycle was significantly more expensive than making the repairs in the earlier stages of the project. Remember the 1-10-100 rule. What costs $1.00 to fix in requirements costs $10.00 to fix in planning and $100.00 to fix after the project is delivered.

Project managers cannot be selective in which problems to solve. All project problems must be addressed, and the sooner the better. While it is true that project managers may not be able to solve the problems themselves, they should at least know what subject matter experts they need to address the issues.


Read mistake #4 >>

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Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 4

By: Wes Balakian

Jan 23, 2019 404 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Over-reliance on Repeatable Processes

Companies may spend years creating an enterprise project management (EPM) methodology. The intent is that the methodology will be used on all projects for all customers and from cradle to grave. While the intent has merit, EPM methodologies do not account for every possible problem that can exist on every project. Having blind faith in the expectation that repeatable processes will solve your problems is a mistake. Repeatable processes appear in the form of guidelines, forms, templates and checklists. Repeatable processes are NOT a replacement or substitute for management attention, effective decision-making, or problem-solving. They are simply tools for the PM to use, and as we all know, projects are managed by people rather than tools. Today there are many options to deliver strategic projects using different methods such as agile.


Read mistake #3 >>

Read mistake #5 >>

Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 3

By: Wes Balakian

Jan 14, 2019 558 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Preparing an Overly Ambitious Schedule

The more inexperienced the project manager, the more optimistic he or she becomes when preparing the schedule baseline. While ambitious schedules are nice to have, they are often unrealistic and can make matters worse. Customers are never told that the schedule is ambitious and therefore believe the schedule is realistic. The customers then focus on the milestone dates and now, when the milestones slip from ambitious to reality, you have an unhappy customer who wonders what other surprises will show up next.

Another factor to consider is the impact on the functional estimates. Ambitious schedules may require team members to perform at a higher position on the learning curve thus changing the functional standards. Functional managers may not want their estimates and standards to be changes. Also, ambitious schedules may require the company’s best functional workers to be assigned to the project and this may be unrealistic. Doing this also takes valuable resources from finishing a project on time and becoming available to another project due to poor time estimations.

Read mistake #2 >>

Read mistake #4 >>

Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 2

By: Wes Balakian

Jan 7, 2019 524 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Pretending to Know More than You Actually Do

For the most part, project managers today possess an understanding of technology rather than a command of technology yet persist in trying to make technical decisions on the project. This usually infuriates line managers to the show him who’s boss.

The size and complexity of today’s projects should make it clear to project managers that they must rely heavily upon the assigned subject matter experts and functional leads for technical direction and support. On some projects, such as in R & D, project manager assignments may be dictated by a requirement for a command of technology rather than just an understanding, but this is an exception rather than the rule. Good project managers know their limitations and never try to dictate a solution without first consulting with the true experts. Know your limits and let the experts do what they do best.


Read mistake #1 >>

Read mistake #3 >>

Wes Balakian Wes Balakian

Wes Balakian is the Balanced Scorecard Institute's Director, Project Management Group with over 30 years’ experience in the business management field as a project management consultant, trainer, author and technologist.

10 Common Mistakes That Young or Inexperienced Project Managers Make - Mistake 1

By: Wes Balakian

Dec 20, 2018 700 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Too Much Detail

Inexperienced project managers tend to become enamored with work breakdown structures (WBS). One newly appointed project manager asked me to review his WBS for an IT project. The thirty-day project had 340 work packages and some of the work packages were broken down into minutes rather than hours or days.

While the project manager was proud of his accomplishment in the creation of a “micro-level” WBS, he neglected to consider the amount of time and effort required by the team to manage at that level of detail. The cost involved to establish possibly 340 charge numbers and track them accordingly could easily increase the management support cost of the project by fifty percent or more.

Project managers must establish an appropriate WBS level from which to manage. Creating a highly detailed WBS is an invitation to micromanage a project, thus alienating functional managers. Most project managers today do not possess the technical expertise to create such a detailed WBS without functional assistance. Just picture yourself attending the kickoff meeting for a thirty-day project and being handed a WBS with 340 work packages.

Read Mistake #2 >>
Tim Johnson Tim Johnson

Tim is a contributing author and Director at Jabian Consulting with over 32 years of experience in management and professional services management consulting. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, portfolio management, performance measurement/management, project management and business process improvement.

Why Strategic Planning Fails - Part 6

By: Tim Johnson

Jul 9, 2018 1409 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Executing the strategic initiatives effectively

Project ManagementThis is the sixth installment in a blog series that discusses potential pitfalls that could hold you back from being fully successful in your strategic planning efforts.  The first was ensuring that you have full leadership support before you begin the strategic planning initiative, the second was generating needed buy-in across the organization, the third was making sure you build that strategy in a way that it can be executed effectively, the fourth was prioritizing to narrow your focus and the fifth was integrating the strategy into how you do business.  As I started the first blog of the series, most things that I have been successful at in my life have been because I did it the right way and using the right tools.  At the Balanced Scorecard Institute, we have the “Nine-Step Process” to building a strategic management system.  We believe in this approach and we have helped hundreds of clients develop comprehensive strategic plans with a management system that enables them to effectively execute strategy.  I myself have worked with over 80 organizations and have seen very successful strategic planning efforts and also those that were less so!  I wanted to share some observations as to where those that were not as successful went wrong along the way. 

The sixth pitfall is in not executing the strategic initiatives effectively.  When you boil strategy down, it really ends up being a tool to help you understand what things you need to start doing today to build the organization of the future so it can be successful, given how you assume the world will be different.  That said, it is only the accomplishment of these “things” or key initiatives that really makes an organization successful.  As such, the successful execution of these initiatives becomes fundamentally important for achieving the vision of the organization.  By having a sound project management office (PMO) system with skilled project managers driving the initiatives to execution, you will be setting the course for successful strategy execution.  Given that leadership attention to objective measures and their link to key initiatives provides focus and attention needed to implement the plan, the management system must ensure an effective process for measuring and monitoring results and tracking the progress of initiative execution is in place.  With an effective system for managing and driving initiatives, the leadership team will have the information it needs to effectively direct the organization’s strategy.

If this pitfall sounds familiar, contact us. We specialize in helping organizations prioritize projects & initiatives. Or check out our Strategic Initiative Management Course. This program focuses on the project management skills needed to effectively manage strategic initiatives end-to-end.

There is one more blog that will complete this series of potential pitfalls that could hold organizations back from realizing the many benefits to developing a strategy and a supporting strategic management system.

Missed Part 5 of the blog series? You can read it here.  You can read Part 7 here.

Tim Johnson Tim Johnson

Tim is a contributing author and Director at Jabian Consulting with over 32 years of experience in management and professional services management consulting. Areas of expertise include strategic planning, portfolio management, performance measurement/management, project management and business process improvement.

Why Strategic Planning Fails - Part 2

By: Tim Johnson

Jun 5, 2018 1666 Views 0 Comments FacebookTwitterLinkedInGoogle Plus

Generating Buy-in

This is the second installment in a blog series that discusses potential pitfalls that could hold you back from being fully successful in your strategic planning efforts. The first was ensuring that you have full leadership support before you begin the strategic planning initiative. As I started the first blog of the series, most things that I have been successful at in my life have been because I did it the right way and used the right tools. At the Balanced Scorecard Institute, we have the “Nine-Step Process” to building a strategic management system. We believe in this approach and we have helped hundreds of clients develop comprehensive strategic plans with a management system that enables them to effectively execute strategy. I myself have worked with over 80 organizations and have seen very successful strategic planning efforts and also those that were less so! I wanted to share some observations as to where those that were not as successful went wrong along the way.

The second pitfall I have experienced is people not buying in to the strategy as it is developed. As mentioned in Part 1, too many times I have seen a leader or small cadre of leaders piece together a strategy and then expect everyone to understand it and get on board. This is not what works! People tend to own what they help create. The more people you can involve in creating the strategy, the more people you have who understand it and support it in the halls and by the water coolers.

There are some key places where involving more people is easy to do and very helpful. The first is in generating ideas up front concerning the future environment in which the organization will exist. Externally what are the opportunities that will be available in the future? What are the threats that need to be considered and mitigated? Internally what are the strengths and weaknesses that could have the most strategic impact on our future success? By getting people to provide input you are first informing them on the process and second telling them that their ideas are valued. You can also involve people beyond the leadership team when developing measurable objectives, KPIs and initiatives. You can find people willing to step up and “own” an objective or to lead an initiative. Again, the more people that are involved, the more traction you are creating within the organization to help drive change and execution.

If this pitfall sounds familiar, then you might be interested in our Strategy Execution—Success Through Leadership workshop which addresses major obstacles and challenges faced in strategy efforts, and techniques on how to overcome them or let us facilitate your group to build support for the system.

Over the next few blogs we will explore five additional potential pitfalls I have seen that hold organizations back from realizing the many benefits to developing a strategy and a supporting strategic management system.

You can read Part 3 here.  Missed Part 1 of the blog series? You can read it here

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