Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Four Early Warning Signs of a Project in Trouble

~ By Ty Kiisel

A gold mine head gear

Underground mining is a dangerous occupation. What's more, before the advent of sophisticated breathing apparatus, methane and carbon monoxide made it even more dangerous for the men working in the mines. In the early days of underground mining, because their metabolism was susceptible to methane and carbon monoxide poisoning, canaries played an important role in keeping miners safe.

  1. They provided an audible warning: Canaries typically sing most of the time-when they stopped singing, it was a warning sign that they were being overcome by the toxic gas.
  2. They provided a visual warning: When they started to sway and fall from their perch, it was a signal that they were succumbing to the poison gas.

Miners who paid attention to the early warning signs owed their lives to the canaries. They were able to recognise the danger and get out of the mine before it was too late.

I think everyone would agree that missing deadlines or exceeding budgets is evidence that a project is probably in trouble. However, those symptoms are often recognised after it's too late to do anything about it. Anyone doing project based work knows how important it is to recognise a project in trouble before it's too late. Here is a list of early warning signs that every project manager should be aware of:

  1. Direction from management is either missing or inconsistent: The only thing worse than project leadership that is missing in action, is direction that contradicts itself and changes frequently.
  2. Business management and project management aren't on the same page: If the project gets consistent direction, but it's at odds with company business objectives, there is more than likely a problem.
  3. Project goals are not clearly articulated and understood by the project team: Although every project usually has a business goal or two, projects without a business objective should probably be reconsidered, right? Often those goals aren't clearly articulated or understood by the project team. Occasionally, the business objective is thought to be so obvious it's never clearly stated. Unfortunately this could lead to misunderstanding and inconsistent presumptions about priorities.
  4. Team members don't communicate with each other: Sometimes, even teams that get along well don't communicate well. Communication and collaboration are essential to any successful project.

Recognising problems before it's too late to do anything about them is critical to work management success. Addressing issues early on is the best way to save a lagging project, as well as a project manager's career. What early warning signs to do you watch for?


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Enter the third letter of the word castle.
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

Top 10 Qualities of an Excellent Manager

The word excellent on a virtual interface with a businessman standing behind it

What are the most important qualities of an excellent manager that allows them to tap into talents and resources in order to support and bring out the best in others.

The 8-Step Guide to Creating a Quality Project Schedule

Businessman with a Gantt chart

This article looks at a simple, practical approach to creating project schedules. After reading this article, you will have a sound approach to creating schedules that you can use for future projects.

Helping Project Teams Succeed

Business team brainstorming using coloured labels on a table in an office

Project teams will be successful when the right environmental conditions exist; sadly this is not always the case.

Stepping Up SMART Goals

What are your goals question in vintage wooden letterpress printing blocks

Here are some strategies and six simple steps for making sure your goals will be concise, clear, and produce the results for which you are looking.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Sean B commented on…
MoSCoW Method
- Thu 19 September 1:42pm

Brian Cassidy commented on…
RACI Matrix
- Sat 14 September 11:38am

Dalia Eldardiry commented on…
Introduction to Project Management
- Sun 1 September 6:42pm

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Re: EPCM abbreviation question https://t.co/az3s6uPT6B about 2 days ago

RT @Capterra_UK: Check out our list of the best #ProjectManagement tools for UK SME:  https://t.co/n2Sc0wEjOE @ProjectSmart@asana @evern… about 5 days ago

General Project Management • Re: What content to include in a status report? https://t.co/oJhRQ9lQaJ about 5 days ago