5 Biggest Challenges for Project Managers


In this video, Jennifer Bridges, PMP, highlights a handful of the biggest challenges project managers face on the job. 

In Review: The 5 Biggest Challenges as a Project Manager

Jennifer discussed five challenges you’re likely to face as a manager running projects. Let’s get right to them:

Project Manager Myths. PMs are often seen to be interfering with the project, rather than helping. It’s difficult to combat the impression of being paper-pushers, admin bullies, people who add unnecessary extra work to a project. 

Keeping Up. Complacency is death in project management. Learn how to keep learning all the time to keep up your career. 

Staying Relevant. This is true for any industry, of course, but because project managers touch so many fields in their daily work, it’s important to be up-to-date not only with relevant project management trends, but also in news, policies, and concerns of consequence to vendors and stakeholders.

Losing Resources. Jennifer established that project plans will change, and that includes team members. Make sure you have planned for some contingencies in the event of resources leaving. 

Standing Firm. You are the project advocate, after all, and your team’s advocate, as well. You will have to be ready to push back against impacts on project scope with key leaders in your organization and also mitigate pushback from your own team. Project management is nothing if not great leadership.

Pro-Tip: Challenges are really stealth opportunities. Another challenge, let’s face it, is dealing with office or project politics. Be a neutral team leader, if factions begin to arise, and take those as warning signs of project problems that need some intervention.

Thanks for watching!


Hello, I’m Jennifer Whitt, Director of ProjectManager. Welcome to our whiteboard session today on the five biggest challenges as a PM. Well, there’s all types of research out there by the Forrester Group, Gartner Group, on stakeholder buy-in, managing expectations, all types of things. But, these are actually the top five that I think Project Managers encountered the most.

Number one is dispelling PM myths about Project Managers and project management in general. It’s the myth that Project Managers are just paper pushers. They’re just working on admin, administrative stuff, that they’re bullies. They’re the ones who are always on my back about things and they get in the way. They give me too much extra stuff to do. They just add extra work to the project.

Those are myths that I think Project Managers spend a lot of time working on trying to dispel. Just to get the credibility back into their role and to the field of Project Management.

Number two, keeping up. There’s so much going on now whether it’s your industry, whether it’s technology, but it’s keeping up, not only on that, but also the changes that are occurring constantly on the project. So, hang on, change is coming, because what happens is that changes the priorities and when priorities change you lose your resources, you lose your budget, and things constantly change. You have to recraft and reorganize.

The other one is staying relevant. So, having the time to develop yourself. To learn what are the trends going on in my industry. What’s the technology that people are using? Now organizations are incorporating using mobile phones, social media, and new tools. Also, policies. What kind of policies are infecting the environment, our industry? Whether it’s telecommunications, technology, real estate, all types of industries. What methods? There are all kinds of methods now and knowing which method is appropriate for your type of project.

So it’s finding time to develop yourself, get informed about what’s happening in your industry, in your profession, so that you can arm yourself with ways to stay more efficient.

Number four is losing resources. So, as things change and they’re higher priority projects, invariably you lose your people or your budget. You know, the critical resource, the super star on your project, that you fear, “Oh my god if I lose that person, I’m dead in the water”. Well typically, we do, and then the budget, so budget gets reallocated to other projects. So therefore, you have to go back reprioritize your work. Change it, and that’s constantly happening.

Then the other one is standing firm. There’s actually a song that says “Know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em”. I think it’s harder to actually stand and hold ‘em. Meaning, step up or go to bat for things in your group, whether it’s resources, trying to fight for or stand for the people so that you don’t lose them. Go to your organization and let them know why it’s important that you keep that resource. Or time, you may have to go back to your stakeholders and position and stand firm that you need more time, things have changed, actually go to your change control board. Then process changes. So, there may need to be some process changes in your organization where you have to change things in order to be more efficient.

Then politics, dealing with the gremlin of politics in your organization. So, it’s harder to stand firm. I think if a Project manager can overcome some of these challenges then they can begin arming themselves to handle the other challenges, like the risk, the change, the managing risk holders’ expectations, and all those things that the other research reports back.

If you are looking for a tool that can help you with your PM challenges, then sign up for our software at ProjectManager.

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