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Top 5 project management fails ruining collaboration in organisations

Every project manager knows the importance of effective collaboration to the success of a project. Having a high-level, executable communication strategy is essential – the many projects failing because of this are a reminder of that.

In fact, a study by Project Management Institute found that companies risk $135 million for every $1 billion spent on a project because of poor communication.


While having an effective communication system in place makes perfect sense to get the best outcome, many project managers make mistakes undermining that system.

Since executives and project managers should be the first to realise the importance of fostering collaboration and implementing appropriate strategies, their failure to achieve this risks damaging their projects.

In this article, we go through the five most common project management fails that have the potential to ruin collaboration in an organisation and undermine the success of its projects.

A lack of adequate communication with remote workers or freelancers

Having a remote worker or freelancer in a project team is common today.

However, if they are not actively engaged in the working process or lack visibility on project progress, chances are the outcome will suffer.

While this sounds like a rare occurrence, statistics suggest otherwise. For example, Small Business Trends claim 70% of remote workers feel left out of the workplace.

This may seem surprising because of the abundance of digital communication and knowledge sharing online workspaces on the market. However, if a project manager doesn’t ensure a proper collaboration and communication system is in place to facilitate the engagement of remote workers and freelancers, things might get ugly.

That’s why project managers should make collaboration tools available to remote team members. Collaboration systems as Kahootz, for example, allow every team member to contribute and be updated wherever they’re based, by having all project-related communications in one secure online platform.

Changes demanded by clients are not made available to all team members


Have you been in a situation like this? A client contacts a team member to say the project should have been delivered by that point but they haven’t received any updates. While miscommunication may certainly be an issue, there could be another reason for this.

For example, the project manager received a list of change requests from the client but didn’t make them available to all members of the team. In other words, the scope of the project has increased, but the project manager underestimated the complexity and the importance of making some of the changes.

“There might be a lot of reasons for this, including a lack of experience in the team, a lack of time, or a failure to realise the complexity of the changes,” says Diane Olszewski, a project manager from Trust My Paper. “As a result, team members can get demoralised and frustrated because they didn’t have a chance to complete the work within the deadline.”

Ultimately, with team members not on the same page, collaboration suffers in a big way. No-one knows who is doing what and why which leads to confusion and an unhappy client.

Forgetting to update the schedule

In many cases, project managers draft a schedule to manage their project at the very beginning.

However, it’s not uncommon for them to forget to update it during later project stages.

For example, a project manager can get preoccupied with coordinating resources/finances or managing ongoing issues, so they don’t think of schedule update as a critical requirement for success. Also, managers often work on multiple projects at the same time, so keeping track of everything becomes more difficult.

As a result, they lack visibility into what they’re working on. This means they struggle to know whether key milestones have been completed or missed and a group of team members who are confused about which tasks are a priority.

Not planning to fail

project management fails

If a team gets to work on a large and complicated project, then the project manager has to work twice as hard to make it a success.

However, it’s easy to make mistakes when faced with a lot of requirements and tight deadlines. For example, a manager’s first reflex might be to dive right into the customer’s requirements and disregard some of the initial planning and coordination of tasks.

In a project where a significant failure means “game over,” a lack of planning for setbacks might lead to even more serious consequences. One of the most prominent examples is the loss of NASA’s $180 million Mars Climate Orbiter that failed because the two teams involved in the development were using different measurement systems. 

In addition to failing to coordinate the software development, the project managers of the American and European teams failed to come up with a solution when it became a possible mission-ending error. As a result, a fully-functioning orbiter was lost because of a simple software mistake that was totally unexpected.

Not making team workload visible to top management

Top management often lacks the knowledge of the workload of project teams. Therefore they may set goals that are hard or impossible to achieve.

Unless a project manager stands up to the top management and proves that their team and resources are overloaded, the chances of achieving maximum outcomes are reduced. Moreover, a team working hard because of a high workload may become de-motivated, leading to reduced collaboration as they simply don’t have the time!

The solution? Provide the right tools

Many factors contribute to effective project collaboration, and failing to pay proper attention to each of them may lead to unwanted outcomes.

Project managers play an important role in making sure everything goes smoothly, so knowing the most common mistakes, as well as their outcomes, is helpful to avoid making them from the start.

Also, providing them with the right online collaboration tools is critical to keeping their teams updated on the project progress. Without them, the risks of failure increase significantly.

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