The 7 deadly sins of project management

The course was going really well. The group was really engaged and we were even ahead on time. Then came the question:

What would you say are the 7 deadly sins of project management?

It brought a few smiles from the group. I suggested as were near the end of the project management course why not split into 3 groups with the view of producing a ‘definitive’ list. The discussion took a while and it was worth it. We even finished later than we intended! This is what they came up with the rationale (theirs, not mine) afterwards:

  1. not having a business case – too many projects are started without any firm foundations. The business case was seen as the go/no go decision tool in project management and the link back to the overall company strategy
  2. poor or no risk assessment – the were too may risk templates that needed to go further. The course had shown how superficial some risk assessments were and much more was needed to be done to ensure risks did not disrupt or derail projects
  3. forgetting that it’s people who deliver projects – this was a key learning point for the group. They felt in their company there was too much emphasis on project management processes and too little on the people aspect of project management
  4. no ownership of project management in the company – project management was seen as a key part of the companies change agenda however no one owned project management and few people understood the overall ‘structure and governance’
  5. project governance – poor or very little monitoring and control, and decision making. While it may seem that this point contradicts point 3 above they suggested that it’s is people who need to set up robust project governance processes and make them work)
  6. poor project planning – delivery dates were set before any planning was carried out with plans not going into sufficient detail. There was also a strong link with poor resource management
  7. not learning from learning – there were many elements of project management that came out during the course. They learnt individually and collectively from each other on this 2 day course. But, within the company,  there was little collective learning with many mistakes being made over and over again

What’s on your list and how many of these 7 deadly project management sins do you or your company commit?

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