A project manager with his hand out waving "stop".When your new project starts out everything will probably be rosy in your garden. The early days of any piece of work are usually the easiest. However, you still need to know about the most important warning signs which you are likely to come up against at some point further down the line.

The Team is Under Motivated

When you work with a project team you really need them to be fully motivated from start to finish. Of course, you often can’t do much about the people you are asked to work with. You might inherit a team from a previous project or have staff on secondment, for example. Even when you get to do the job interviews there is no guarantee that the person will do the job you need them to do afterwards. The one thing you control is the motivation you give them, so this is what you need to focus on. You need to remember that some tasks can be rather boring, and some of your team members could lose interest. This is especially true if you haven’t given them the full picture on what you are trying to do and how their piece of work slots into the overall plan.

The Plan is Under Threat

The project plan might look like a document which you need to get done and then store away somewhere until someone asks to see it. This isn’t the case at all, and by keeping a close eye on it you can find out whether there are dangers ahead. Milestones which are danger in slipping or overstretched resources are a couple of the things which you can identify if you know how to read the project plan properly.

The Stakeholders Aren’t On Your Wavelength

The stakeholders are also very important to your chances of successfully concluding the project. It is easy to overlook them at times but it is important that you don’t do this. You need to get their buy in and make them feel as though they are part of the project. After all, they are the people who are likely to be left with the end results once you have finished and moved onto something else. Try to keep them up to date at all times and give them every opportunity to add their own ideas. If they feel left out they could start getting resentful or they could just decide to let you get on with it and not contribute to the project as much anymore.

The Objectives Get Forgotten About

The most important issue at the start of the piece of work is the list of objectives for the project; what is it that you are actually being asked to deliver? The thing is, a lot of project managers find that it is easy to lose sight of the objectives along the way. With so much else going on it can be something which simply fades out of sight over time. Of course, the objectives are listed on the original project documentation, or at least they should be. It is a good idea to go back and look at these documents occasionally, as they will help you see what you were asked to do in the first place. There is no harm in making sure that the team members and stakeholders don’t lose sight of the objectives either. A team away day is a fine place to drive home the message, while putting up some posters on the wall can also make it something which is part of daily life in your office.

The Resources Are Under Strain

As project manager you will have a lot of tasks to carry out but you can’t afford to forget that the team will also be kept busy. The project plan should have the expected resources placed in it but it is possible that you end up seeing this resource stretched. There are lots of different possible reasons for this and the best approach is to flag this up as an issue right away. Maybe the stakeholders can help you out here by agreeing to an increased budget or by giving you some business users on secondment. The worst thing you can do is try and ignore the problem and battle on regardless. The same goes for any other type of resource which becomes stretched, whether it is the number of computers you have, the office space or anything else.