Avoiding Project Management Pitfalls- Part 2: Execution, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing Projects

My previous article focused on common project management pitfalls during the initiating and planning process groups.

This article will focus on common project management pitfalls for the last three project management process groups:

  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling
  • Closing

Executing is the act of performing the work that has been scoped in the project management plan to satisfy the requirements. It is important that the project manager collaborates with leadership to ensure the right resources are aligned to the tasks, and that deliverables are prioritized and clearly documented with assigned due dates and ownership responsibilities. Stakeholder analysis, change management/communications, process documentation, training and testing are also key to the success of a project.

Common “Execution” pitfalls:

  • Improper Project Resources: It is essential to have resources and subject matter experts involved that can speak to the details of the product or services, as well as key decision makers or stakeholders who can make business decisions to progress the project. Common roles on projects are: project sponsor, project manager, senior business leaders, process and/or technology subject matter experts, change management, training, legal and/or compliance resources.
  • Failure to Conduct Stakeholder Analysis: Stakeholders may not be directly aligned to the day to day activities of a project; however, they should be identified and informed of changes impacting their work or areas of responsibility. It is important to conduct a stakeholder analysis exercise during planning to capture: a list of stakeholders; how the project impacts them; if the impact could be perceived as a positive or negative; and methods/timing for communicating change.
  • Lack of Accountability: Accountability requires transparency and effective communication. Regular project update meetings should be in place to discuss and capture the progress of the project, as well as issues and risks. The project plan should carefully outline project milestones, tasks, task owners, status and due dates. This plan should be updated and reviewed with the project team regularly.
  • Poor Communication: It is important to keep communication flowing throughout the project. The lack of communication could result in missed or incorrect deliverables and deadlines. Ensuring you are effectively communicating to project team members and stakeholders is key. Change management is also key and can often be included in the overall communication plan.

Monitoring and Controlling consists of the ability to track, review, and manage the progress and performance of a project. It also requires the ability to identify and administer applicable changes when needed. Once the project is underway, the project manager should regularly assess progress related to scope, timeline and budget to ensure the project is on track.

Common “Monitoring and Controlling” pitfalls:

  • Failure to Manage Integrated Change Control: There will be times when a project will require some type of change. Tracking changes and follow-up related to change orders and related costs is an essential part of any project manager’s job. There needs to be a systematic approach to manage the changes, including: scope and cost of the change, why a change is necessary and how the change will impact the overall project.
  • Lack of Scope, Schedule & Cost Oversight: As the project progresses, adjustments are often necessary to address unforeseen circumstances.
    • Reviewing contractual documents and requirements throughout the project can ensure the project does not have scope creep, which could negatively impact the project timeline and budget.
    • Monitoring the project timeline can decrease the chances of major setbacks.
    • Tracking and communicating changes in the budget is also important to ensure accurate cost control.
  • Poor Quality Control: The goal is to do the work properly the first time! Re-work often results in doubled cost and time. Poor quality also decreases client credibility. Quality Control involves continuously inspecting the work to determine if the results are aligned doxycycline online with requirements of the project and if not, fixing the problem as soon as possible. There are several quality tools and techniques a project manager can use to assist with quality control, such as:
    • Ishikawa Diagram: Also known as Cause-and-Effect of Fishbone Diagram
    • Pareto Chart: The 80/20 Principle Chart shows the categories of failure within a system
    • Control Charts: Shows normal distribution and tracks trends over time
  • No Risk Management: Identifying and tracking risks is essential to every project. Proactive risk management will allow the ability to mitigate or minimize risks and their impacts.
  • Failure to Understand Project Success Indicators: To measure success, you have to know when you actually reach success. During the project initiation and planning phases, the project team should understand and document what is most important to stakeholders for project completion and have clearly defined and measurable success indicators.
  • Missing Post Implementation Stabilization Plan: Regardless of how well the project is planned and executed, there will be unanticipated issues, bugs and glitches. It is imperative that you develop a post implementation stabilization plan for issues that may arise. The plan may include: setting up daily command center and weekly update calls; establishing an issues mailbox and/or contact center que; providing FAQs and supplemental job aids; securing resources such as process champions and/or technology SMEs. The stabilization plan should be finalized and approved prior to go live.

Project Closure is the last phase in the project life cycle. In this phase, you will: formally close your project and provide the project deliverables to the customer; pass the documentation and ongoing support responsibilities to the business; release project staff, vendors and equipment; and inform sponsors and stakeholders of the project closure. Other key activities are gathering lessons learned, storing project artifacts and completing a project closure report or update.

Common “Project Closure” pitfalls:

  • Poor Project Organization: One of the primary responsibilities of a project manager is to ensure the project is well organized, including managing project artifacts. Project documentation should be clearly labeled and maintained in a common or shared space. When possible, project management software should be leveraged.
  • Releasing project resources too early: Releasing project resources too early creates the risk of not having knowledgeable resources available to support post implementation stabilization efforts. Having a defined post implementation stabilization plan helps ensure resources are aligned to address and correct issues in a timely manner.
  • Failure to Complete a Project Closure Report: It is important that you list every activity required to close the project in a Project Closure report or checklist. Once the report has been approved by your sponsor and key stakeholders, the closure activities stated in the report should be actioned with clearly defined responsibilities and due dates.
  • Avoiding Lessons Learned: Soliciting project feedback can be a scary thing. It is easy to document best practices and successes, but it is equally important to discuss and document feedback on what did not work well. Conducting Post Implementation Review (PIR) sessions allows for lessons learned that can assist in planning, managing and meeting the objectives of future projects.

As a project manager, your ability to avoid many of these pitfalls will help you achieve greater success managing and completing your projects in scope, within budget and on time.


Works Cited:



By |2018-08-24T13:05:03+00:00September 29th, 2017|Categories: Career Growth, Tutorials & Guides|2 Comments

About the Author:

Stacey is a Talent Acquisition leader with 20+ years experience effectively leading teams, transforming processes, managing projects, gaining operational efficiency and developing strategic solutions for internal and external clients.


  1. Gwen Tidwell September 29, 2017 at 3:09 pm - Reply

    Excellent article! I will be able to use this resource as I assist with more project management.

Leave A Comment