Project rescue – 8 signs of poor project management

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In our market evaluation on the topic of cross-collaboration in marketing, we surveyed more than 650 marketing decision-makers on the challenges that shape their day-to-day work, especially with regard to project work with external service providers. Numerous stumbling blocks have emerged that disrupt or even prevent smooth project execution.

Surprisingly, over 650 marketing decision makers shared similar pain points regarding their service provider management.

When asked why no tool was used for service provider management, around 45% of respondents said that they were not aware of any tool with the desired range of functions. This is exactly what we want to change.

We have summarized for you in the following sections eight clear signs of poor project management. With those in mind you can recognize whether your projects and collaboration with external service providers are getting out of hand. We also provide valuable tips on how to get your project back on track.

1) Unintended budget overruns

The classic for a project in trouble: the budget overrun. This sign of a project in trouble can certainly not be denied by anyone. Budget overruns are often due to inadequate project planning or insufficient agreements regarding service content and the catalog of requirements.

If requirements catalogs are not properly prepared and service contents are not comprehensively defined, it can therefore quickly happen that the budget has to be forcibly exceeded because adjustments have to be made that no one was talking about beforehand.

Our tip: The only thing that helps here is what is necessary for a successful project anyway: clearly detailed service contents (contract controlling), clearly defined requirements in a uniform briefing process and transparent project management throughout the entire project. This is the only way you can act in time in case of misunderstandings or misguided procedures. Before it comes to a budget overrun, you should already intervene in time at the now following signs.

2) Lack of product knowledge from service providers

One finding that surprised us about the collaboration between marketing teams and their external service providers (e.g. agencies) is the frequently criticized lack of company or product knowledge on the part of the service providers. If interim project deliverables also give you the feeling that your service provider is selling “one-size-fits-all” solutions, this may be the first sign of a project that is getting out of hand. We find: Successful cooperation always takes two. Your service providers work with what you give them. So assigning blame doesn’t make much sense at this point.

Our tip: extensive briefings. The more precise your briefing, the more accurately your service provider can map your ideas.

That’s why you should first look at your own nose and question your briefing process. In our survey, over 85% of marketing decision-makers stated that they do not use standardized briefing templates. The reason given for this is that project requirements are too specific and cannot be mapped with a stiff briefing template. But what if you had access to a pool of foolproof editable briefing templates? With the teamnext | Media Hub, we want to make your briefing process consistent, yet customizable.

3) Frequent adjustments

Even though it is probably wishful thinking that there will never be adjustments or changes within projects, you should be vigilant in case of accumulating adjustments. Additional changes and adjustments usually also mean additional costs or even budget or deadline overruns. So if things have to be adjusted again and again within your project, the suspicion is obvious that the project vision is not really clear to all project participants. This is quickly followed by sentences such as “We had imagined that somehow differently.” At this point, it becomes clear once again how important clear agreements are for the success of your project.

Our tip: To avoid inflationary adjustments, you should lay the foundation even before the project starts by clearly defining and documenting your requirements. These requirements should be accessible to all project participants at all times. You realize this by having a central repository for your requirements catalog or brief. You should avoid email ping-pong in the process. If you establish a common information base regarding your requirements even before the project starts, the number of adjustments will be reduced. This will help you avoid budget overruns and meet your deadlines.

4) Changing contact persons

Within a project, an external service provider is involved. You have a question and the employee assigned to you is not available. Since your request is urgent, you need to explain to a new contact what it is about. The new contact person is missing important project information and sentences like “I would have to clarify this internally …” follow. You don’t really feel that well advised. Having to explain yourself over and over again and having to call a service provider you are paying behind you is annoying, costs time and could be avoided.

Our tip: Instead of getting pointlessly annoyed by the service provider’s approach and making the project success and progress dependent on a single contact person, it is best to take your problem into your own hands and create a documented, centralized information base that can be supplemented and viewed by all project participants at any time. How? With tools that allow you to work together without having to be in the same room. Endless e-mail loops and telephone arrangements are time-consuming, non-transparent and inefficient. It’s time to simplify these processes and use digitization to your advantage!

5) Unclear responsibilities

“Shouldn’t Max be doing that?”

You do not know exactly who is responsible for what and when individual points are implemented by whom? The status of pending tasks is usually only known by the person who is working on them? Tasks are assigned in meetings, but afterwards no one really feels responsible? Clear sign of a project in trouble.

Our tip: Tasks should never be assigned exclusively verbally, but should always be documented. The risk of misunderstanding something is very high with verbal agreements. At the end of each meeting, there should be a report that briefly and clearly summarizes to-do lists with responsibilities. Unfortunately, when working with service providers, it’s not quite as easy, but it’s not rocket science either. In order to delegate tasks quickly and in a documented manner, a central task management system can help. This way, not only does everyone see what needs to be done and who is responsible, but they also have an overview of the current status of the project at all times.

6) Lack of transparency of individual project progress.

Particularly when working with external service providers, marketing decision-makers in our survey frequently criticize the lack of transparency in project progress. Often there are no interim reports, but only the final result, which then also does not meet the expectations. If you don’t hear from your service providers for a long time and cannot transparently view your project progress, your alarm bells should be ringing.

Our tip: Make project progress transparent. This doesn’t work with email ping-pong. Bring all information together in one central place, in real time. In this way, you can intervene in time in the event of misguided intermediate steps and get your project back on track.

7) Lack of project culture

Can project participants answer questions about the project or its status only bumpily or not at all? And what about the willingness to cooperate and communicate within the team? Do service providers and your own team members respond quickly and reliably to intermediate questions, or do you have to call each other to discuss minor details? Yes? Then your project culture is lacking.

Our tip: If you involve external service providers within your projects, you must see yourself as a team and act as such. The greatest characteristic of a team is: collaboration. This is usually not possible in spatial terms when working with service providers. But you can make sure that you work together digitally, on one platform. Today, teams don’t have to sit in the same office to make great things happen.

8) Lack of communication

In our survey, we asked marketing decision-makers what really bugs them about working with their service providers. A common reaction to this was: lack of communication and misguided agreements.

If your communication within projects also leaves a lot to be desired, if you can only reach service providers with difficulty or not at all, or if you only exchange information with each other poorly, this can simply not be in the interest of your project. Why? Often, many people involved have different ideas about the success of a project. Especially when working with agencies, ideas about design, for example, can diverge widely. If communication is then lacking, projects can fail miserably.

Bundle your channels

One reason for a lack of communication can be the multitude of communication channels. Agreements take place via e-mail, telephone or other tools – not fully documented and certainly not transparent.

Our tip: It sounds complicated at first, but it’s actually not: bundle your communication channels. You should generally avoid binding agreements by phone. The chance that details will be forgotten or misunderstood is simply too great. And email? Is non-transparent. No one except the person who has the email in their inbox knows the current status. This leads to repetitive inquiries regarding project information. We think so: This can also be done better and, above all, more efficiently.

We have taken up this challenge of many marketing decision-makers and, with the teamnext | Media Hub, we want to do away with e-mail ping-pong and non-transparent agreements by bringing all project participants together on a digital platform, with communication in real time.

If you take these signs seriously, the project cart doesn’t have to hit the wall first and you can act in time to ensure the success of your projects.

You want to make the collaboration with your service providers within your projects easier and more efficient? Then try out the teamnext | Media Hub for free!

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