14 Top Challenges Faced By Project Managers

Story Highlights
  • What is the root cause of most project problems?
  • What is a common result of poor project planning?
  • Focus on self improvement.
  • Focus on business value.
  • Tactical Planning.

Serving as a project manager is hard work. It requires the skills, training and resources to handle many diverse challenges. Project managers not only need leadership skills, but they must also be adept at controlling the processes and resources required to complete the project on time and get high-quality results. Being able to manage projects, make them run smoothly and complete them on schedule and within the budget requires project managers to navigate and resolve a variety of challenges successfully. They include:

1. Poor Planning Challenges

Poor planning is the most common problem project managers face. They are often given projects with poorly defined goals and challenging to attain objectives and charged with making it work. Savvy project managers use well-designed project planning techniques to make the goals of the project more clearly defined and create a comprehensive step-by-step plan for meeting the project’s objectives.

Expect the best, plan for the worst, and prepare to be surprised. Denis Waitley


2. Vague Or Changing Requirements

Vague requirements or make unpredictable changes create chaos and could cause projects to fail. Active project managers create precise schedules for each project step, regularly verify the requirements and develop systematic processes for meeting cost, quality and time goals. Good project managers focus on the customer’s needs and deadlines and make and follow realistic plans to achieve quality results. They also carefully document the entire process.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.Michael Jordan

3. Undefined Goals

Projects with undefined goals are the bane of the existence of many project managers. However, using feature-rich, versatile, collaborative tools, they can help clients better define their project goals. Using project management software, they can streamline planning sessions through email, online discussion and group chats, organising images, folders, notes, documents, charts and files. This facilitates more effective task management, better workflow and identifies each team member’s specific roles. This makes resource allocation and the project review and approval process faster and easier so projects can be completed on time.

4. Insufficient Team Skills

A project can only be as successful as the skills of its team members will allow. If the members of the team don’t have the proper training or skills, successful project managers make sure to provide them with the knowledge, training and expertise they need to perform their assigned tasks or add better-prepared team members. Active project managers eliminate finger-pointing and the tendency for workers to blame each other for project glitches by clarifying each person’s daily tasks and the timeframe in which it is to be completed. Addressing workflow accountability from the start of the project usually leads to success.


5. Problems With Team Members

Good project managers know how to effectively use teamwork building activities to address and eliminate teamwork challenges, facilitate positive interpersonal relations and create a better work environment. Experienced project managers use collaborative activities to acclimate team members to each other’s personality traits and teach them how to work together effectively despite their differences.

6. Communication Challenges

Effective communication skills are among a project manager’s greatest assets for completing projects on time and within budget. Clear, concise, open communication can prevent problems when giving instructions, seeking information and asking or answering questions.


7. Dealing With Risk

Risk management is part of the bailiwick of project managers. They must identify, assess, prioritise, monitor, minimise and control all types of risk. Active project managers collect vital information and use strategic planning to anticipate and prepare to mitigate project risks

8. Time, Cost And Quality

Controlling project completion time and costs and work quality delivered are critical challenges project managers face. Good project managers create change control processes to meet customers’ specific requirements and expectations, develop project schedules and create realistic budget baseline estimates.

9. Resource Conflicts Challenges

To resolve resource conflicts, project managers can use a useful tool called resource levelling. It allows them to decide if using only the resources available to complete the project or completing the project within a specified timeframe is most important. They can then take the appropriate resource allocation action.

Being a Project Manager is like being an artist, you have the different colored process streams combining into a work of art. Greg Cimmarrusti

10. Stakeholder Shenanigans (Internal Politics)

Project managers can overcome shareholder shenanigans (internal politics) by considering all sides of the conflict, avoiding further complicating the situation and reminding all parties involved how completing the project on time and within budget benefits them personally.

11. Technical Issues

Clear, timely, communication is an essential tool project managers can use to prevent and overcome technical issues. During the planning process project managers should tell clients what tools and technologies are needed to complete the project. Regularly communicating and collaborating with clients makes addressing technical issues fast and easy.


12. Legal Challenges

Project managers must be transparent with clients, stakeholders and project teams and have the legal team write all management service agreement outlines. Having binding and legal agreements protects all involved against litigation and other legal issues.

13. Dependency Conflicts (Project Dependencies)

To deal with potential dependency conflicts project managers must keep detailed records of linked activities like project planning, tracking, scheduling and execution for future reports and reviews. Proper identification, continuous monitoring and control, efficient communication and excellent organisational skills are vital.

14. Bureaucratic Project Governance

Project governance deals with oversight, guidance and decision-making. Project managers must use their skills, knowledge, tools and techniques and clear and appropriate roles and responsibilities to benefit from zealous and bureaucratic project governance frameworks.


Project managers with this combination of skills can overcome the many diverse challenges that come with the position. They will be able to meet the expectations of their clients and guide and motivate their team to do quality work that’s completed on time and under budget.

Imran Zaman

The founder of DIGITI.ORG - The Digital Transformation Magazine. Imran is a Senior Consultant who helps FTSE 500 companies develop Cloud-First Strategies, introduce Cloud Operating and Cloud Finance Models and leads international Program Management teams to deliver digital change. Imran writes about Business, Technology and Innovation.

Related Articles

Back to top button