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project management issues

Ever felt like your projects should be more profitable than they actually are? Or that your final client deliverable missed the mark but you’re not sure why? Those are only two of the top project management issues we often see. Here are some of the top project management issues that small businesses face.

Project Management Issue #1: Not billing your clients for project management time

One of the most common questions we hear when implementing project management strategies is, “this all sounds great, but…how can I afford it?” Well, maybe YOU don’t have to. Project management is a billable resource, just like your consulting time or your software developer’s time. So make sure you are billing your client for this time.

To discern if project management is billable to a client, ask yourself, “would I be working on this project or a certain task if the client did not exist?” If the answer is no, then this is a billable activity.

Another way to think about project management as billable is the fact that someone on your team is already fulfilling some of the project management duties. And, likely, they aren’t doing it that well. Someone is managing the project, even if it’s just basic communication with the internal team or client. Even if you remove that internal person managing the project, another role, such as a developer or tech, will be acting as the project manager – and you have to pay for their time to do so.

By bringing in a project manager who has the expertise in this role,  you’ll have a project that runs better and takes fewer hours. Thus, you will bill your client less money overall.

If you’re not accounting for the project management time when you bill your client, you’re losing money. Still not convinced? Check out our resources to learn how to talk about money with your clients, and how to bill for project management time.

Project Management Issue #2: Managing projects through email

The average employee receives almost 100 emails a day. The more emails you respond to in a day, the more productive you are, right? (Um, no! Wrong!) It’s easy to let the email hustle mess up your priorities and effectiveness. Especially when you use it to communicate about projects. But email is a communication delivery tool, not a project management tool.

Here are some problems that can arise if you manage projects through email, instead of through a project management tool.

  • Forgetting to cc stakeholders on important project updates can lead to a lack of transparency or not having the right decision-makers involved.
  • Always having to dig through various email threads for project details, as supposed to everything being in one place.
  • Not having a central file/info hub to find files, reports, deliverables.
  • No ability to assign a person or a date to the next step.
  • Challenges in remembering who to follow up with when.
  • Email is a one-point-in-time update, so you don’t know what’s happening in real-time. You usually have to email AGAIN to find out what’s going on!

All of these things can cause unnecessary time spent on the project, or, missing an important project update, which again can lead to scope creep or a deliverable that is off-strategy. Collaboration tools are vital for the success of your project. Whatever tool you use, most of them allow you to communicate about the project directly in the tool, cutting down on email.

Project management software also sends reminders on due dates, time tracking, and analytics. Does your email do that? Beyond the Chaos is a certified partner of Asana,, and so please reach out to us for help.

Is there a role for email when it comes to managing projects? Not really. It might be a good tool for before the project starts, but afterward, all communications should go through your project management tool so that you have a single source of truth. And, therefore, all communication regarding that project is in one place.

To better manage your email, read our tips on the five things to do with each email.

Project Management Issue #3: No one is responsible for tasks

Even the most beautiful of project plans will be completely useless if no one is assigned to be responsible for each project task.

When you don’t assign tasks, the task is at risk for not getting done. Or worse, several people are doing the task without communicating about it, thus creating budget inefficiencies. When a specific person is assigned to a task, there are no doubts about who has the main responsibility which therefore expedites the process.

Another problem with not assigning a specific person is that they could already be allocated to another project or client. Which means they’re not available to complete the tasks needed on your project. Poor resource management kills projects and burns out your team. The tools mentioned above, like, make assigning tasks (with due dates) and resource management foolproof. Many of these tools track and display a person’s capacity so you can see exactly who is available and when.

As a bonus, people feel more accountable for their actions and have a sense of ownership when they are in a formally designated role. Read more here about tips for assigning individuals to specific tasks. 

Project Management Issue #4: Not managing change properly

There will always be project fires to put out. But the way you navigate change can make all the difference in how (and if) the project recovers.

Things will happen. Clients will request out-of-scope changes. Or last-minute changes. You will have to make decisions about if you should make client changes now or later in a different phase of the project. See our tips for successfully navigating project changes without putting the project and your client relationship in jeopardy.

To manage change, it’s also important to learn how to say “no.” If the client changes the plan after you have agreed to it, then you have to communicate clearly that it will require more time and resources. (Resources can be money, people, servers, testers, or any combination thereof.) That’s the gist of saying no. Sometimes it’s not actually saying the word. It’s explaining the consequences and getting the client to start saying “no” instead.

Get a handle on your project management issues

So there you have it. The top project management issues we see again and again. All of these issues trackback to your profitability and risk of compromising what you promised to your clients. If these issues sound familiar, and you need more help getting a handle on your business operations as a whole, please reach out to see how we can help.

For further self-guided information, see our complete guide to successful small business operations.

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