Common Project Management Problems

Isn’t it funny how the same problems seem to come up again and again? Murphy’s Law of Project Management might best be stated as “the more common the problem and the more it is planned for, the more likely it is to come up anyways and threaten a project’s success.” Common project management problems are the obvious ones, the ones so plain they can sometimes be overlooked. Here are the most common project management problems:

Vendor-caused Delays

expect heavy delays

“We need this by the 25th, OK? Hard deadline. The 25th. OK?”


And on the 23rd, the vendor calls to inform you of a two week delay on their end. “We didn’t see this coming,” they might say. Which only makes it worse.

Vendor delays are common as muck. What is crucial to you and your team isn’t crucial to a software development company in a different time zone. Vendors will lie to obtain your business. Vendors will have very flexible interpretations of deadlines. Don’t trust your vendors further than you can throw them. And always, always, ALWAYS have a backup vendor planned.

The Bad Apple

bad apple

There’s always that one team member who’s the bad apple of the bunch. Common project management problems? This is as common as it gets. You’re excited about your project. You know what a game changer it can be. Anyone with eyes and a heart can see how designing the new maternity ward of the hospital and getting it operational is a chance to do good in the world. Who wouldn’t be excited to work on this? Karen, that’s who. Karen was a dynamo five years ago. She’s a bitter employee today. She drags down the project through her energy (or lack thereof), her attitude, and her snail paced work rate. Nip this problem in the bud before it starts to affect your team, your project…and you. Give your bad apple a chance for redemption, call in the cavalry (HR, management) when they don’t take it, and keep everyone else on point and on target.

Scope Creep

It starts innocently, at first. “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if the app could also diagnose lupus?” Never mind that until now, this app was supposed to be about liquid detergent, right? Someone has a brilliant idea, and that someone isn’t the one who is going to have to do any of the work needed to make their idea a reality. Scope creep is the stealthy thief in the night, stealing the project’s hard earned momentum and success for its own nefarious purposes. Nail down those scope statements and treat them like the Law. Define your change processes from the beginning. And stand up to the bright ideas guy – don’t bow to pressure.

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