The Top 5 Frustrations of Project Managers and Tips on How to Avoid Them: Part 1 of 5

Emily Down | October 24, 2011

1. FRUSTRATION: The 11th hour swoop-in.

An executive comes to you last minute with feedback that you needed three weeks ago.

Is it a must-have change or a nice-to-have change? Do you push the deadline? Do you immediately push-back to say, “Thanks, but we’ll get that into the next release?” Maybe you go home after working late again and watch the movie “Office Space” for the 30th time to try to laugh it off so you don’t go postal on your boss the next day.

TIP: Be open.

Give management better visibility and a continuous feedback loop to address issues before it’s too late.

To be honest, we’ve been on both sides of this frustration. It’s unpleasant to be the swooper and the swoopee. The reality is that managers are busy dealing with a million different issues, and whether right or wrong, they will focus on what’s most urgent. Also, ideas come to management and other stakeholders after they see prototypes and realize what was specified in the initial requirements document a month ago isn’t the best solution now.

To prevent the 11th hour swoop-in, you have to be transparent and open for feedback at all phases of the project, and have frequent check-ins to get reactions early. If your team and executive staff are in the same office, this is easier to accomplish. Have a whiteboard or dedicated wall in a prominent location sharing the latest designs. Every day, they’ll walk by and have an opportunity to react to what they see. Most people respond better to visuals versus written words to understand the user experience.

If you’re a distributed team in multiple locations, as is common today, then a specialized tool that provides everyone a central hub for the project’s requirements, related designs and real-time feedback will help. They’ll see what’s happening as the project evolves no matter where they are, and you’ll be able to keep your finger on the pulse to hedge any disagreements or potential gotchas from happening later.

Read part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or download full whitepaper here.