Common Project Management Challenges and How to Overcome Them in 2024

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Many project managers struggle with the same common project management challenges. A project’s priorities, stakeholders, objectives and interests, resources, and attitudes must all be in harmony, which isn’t an easy task.

In this article, we look at five of the biggest project management challenges and offer advice on how to overcome them in the real world.

The 5 Key Project Management Challenges


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Here’s an in-depth look at common challenges project managers face during the project lifecycle, with ways to mitigate risks like these for future projects you take on.

1. Scope Creep and Change Control

1. Scope Creep and Change Control

Scope creep is an incredibly popular project management challenge that refers to unexpected or unapproved additions to the project’s scope. It can cause serious cost overruns and impact the project timeline.

Conversely, change control serves as a process for evaluating and responding to change requests, considering factors like time, cost, and potential impacts on project deadlines.

You can think of these as opposing forces in project management—project scope creep introduces change, and change control seeks to limit it. At the same time, change isn’t always a bad thing.

In fact, it’s necessary for creativity and innovation. Therefore, the trick to overcome project management challenges like these is to balance the two.

How to Overcome Scope Creep

Here are some effective ways to overcome this project management challenge:

Create a Simple Change Management ProcessRespond Quickly to Change RequestsTake a Data-Driven ApproachGive Decision-Power to Team MembersHold Regular Meetings
Create a Simple Change Management Process

To overcome project management challenges like this, you’ll want to create a simple, straightforward process for submitting change requests.

If the process is complicated or time-consuming, it’s less likely to be used.

Good project management software like Monday allows you to build simple forms and create all kinds of useful automations to ensure they’re dealt with properly.

Respond Quickly to Change Requests

As a project manager, you’ll want to respond quickly and transparently to change requests. You don’t have to give an answer immediately, but let the person know you’ve received the request and will study it, and thank them for their input. This builds faith in the process and lets people feel heard.

Take a Data-Driven Approach

To overcome management challenges like this, project managers will want to take a data-driven approach to change control. Study the potential impact on the project’s schedule, costs, and value.

This will help ensure that you remain objective when making decisions, and it will also make it easier to justify your decisions to project stakeholders.

Give Decision-Power to Team Members

Empower your entire team to make some decisions themselves. This gives people the freedom to be creative and prevents project tasks from being delayed for the sake of bureaucracy.

As a project manager, establish clear protocols and ensure everybody follows them correctly.

Hold Regular Meetings

A project team should include change control in regular meetings. As a project manager, you should encourage your team to discuss the changes they’ve implemented to overcome challenges and their impact on the project.

Additionally, project managers should ask questions about changes they’re thinking of requesting and the status of changes they’ve already requested.

2. Stakeholder Challenges

2. Stakeholder Challenges

Studies show that support from stakeholders is associated with better access to resources, a greater perceived chance of success, better risk management, and keeping team members aligned.

It also results in a simpler handover at the project’s end. Despite these many benefits, though, project managers often view stakeholders in a negative light:

Overall, the survey responses didn’t paint a flattering picture of stakeholders. In fact, no one said anything nice about stakeholders at all.

Most of the comments made them sound like that unwanted relative that you have to invite for Christmas—and then you scream with relief when they exit stage left on Boxing Day with a terminal case of acid reflux.”

—Damian Fessey, Managing Partner at Oxford8 Ltd, project management and business transformation consultancy.

At the same time, many project managers admit that they aren’t really sure how to engage with stakeholders and win their support, and nearly half say they don’t have time.

But how can we expect our stakeholders to champion our projects, offer guidance and support, and give us priority if we don’t make the effort to engage with them?

Data and experience suggest that besides managing resources, effectively managing stakeholder expectations is a skill worth developing. Here’s how you can get started:

How to Overcome Stakeholder Disengagement

Beyond keeping stakeholders on the same page with project status reports and frequent meetings, here are some project management tips for managing stakeholders:

Be Easy to Work WithGet to Know Your StakeholdersSend Regular UpdatesSolicit Feedback OftenDedicate Specific Times for Stakeholder Management
Be Easy to Work With

To be an effective project manager, you’ll want to make it easy to work with you — We don’t just mean being polite, friendly, and approachable.

Make it physically and technically easy to work with you, i.e., in a way that demands little time and effort. Keep calls short and effective by being prepared.

Prepare project documentation, data, and visuals in a way that’s easy to understand and access. Respond quickly to requests—even if it’s just to say you received the message.

Get to Know Your Stakeholders

Understanding your stakeholders is the key to engaging with them and garnering support. However, building a working relationship takes time, so start early.

Approach the task with a genuine interest in their needs and expectations. Finally, record what you learn and keep it handy for updates, meetings, and emails. A table like this works well:

Name Alyssa Barry Caroline
Title Marketing Manager CMO CTO
Dept Marketing Marketing Engineering
Preferred Comms Email Slack Short calls
Influence Low Low High
RACI Inform Inform Consult
Pain Points Disruption to the current campaign and lead gen Misalignment between marketing strategy and new tech Interoperability with existing infrastructure
Objectives Ensure the new system enhances customer data analysis and segmentation The new system must be integrated with marketing’s needs Little to no downtime
Send Regular Updates

Send regular, written updates about the project’s progress, personalized to the stakeholders’ needs and expectations. Highlight any successes likely to be important to them. Preempt questions, issues, or objections and offer possible solutions.

Solicit Feedback Often

As a project leader, solicit feedback often and let them know that their opinion is valuable. If you’ve taken previous feedback on board, relay it to them—especially if it led to a successful project.

Dedicate Specific Times for Stakeholder Management

Dedicate specific times for stakeholder engagement, ensuring a regular and structured approach to updates and feedback. This helps build a habit out of stakeholder engagement, turning it into a regular and repeatable process that you and the stakeholders can look forward to each week or month.

3. Conflict Among Project Teams

3. Conflict Among Project Teams

Team collaboration and poor communication are among the top project management challenges project managers face. Diverse personalities, communication skills, and individual goals can lead to conflict and misunderstandings among project team members.

This is a popular issue and is easily among the most common project management challenges. Managed appropriately by experienced project managers, short bursts of conflict can be positive.

Conflicts in the project environment can act as a springboard for creativity, innovation, and effective problem-solving, too, fostering a dynamic environment where new ideas thrive.

However, when conflict becomes prolonged or repetitive, it can significantly hinder productivity, and other potential risks include jeopardizing the project’s success and damaging team morale.

In fact, studies have shown that projects fail (or can), as employees can spend up to three hours per week caught in conflict, which can consume up to 40% of a manager’s time.

As a result, developing your conflict resolution skills is one of the best ways to maintain focus, foster a positive team environment, and ensure successful project completion.

How to Overcome Team Conflict 

Here are some tips for managing conflict within your project team:

Watch for Signs of ConflictDiscuss IndividuallyDiscuss as a TeamCreate a Plan of ActionFollow Up
Watch for Signs of Conflict

Be on the watch for signs of tension before they become full-blown interpersonal conflicts. These include:

  • Noticeable changes in communication patterns
  • Increased instances of misunderstandings
  • Visible frustration during interactions, and
  • Avoidance of team meetings.

Conflicts are more likely to arise during times of high stress, such as during the project planning phase and project completion, before key milestones, or in response to some unexpected roadblock.

Discuss Individually

If a conflict does arise, you first need to understand the problem. To do this, discuss the issue with your team individually.

Create a safe environment for each team member by reassuring them that the meeting is confidential, that you’re asking everybody the same questions, and by giving them plenty of time to respond.

Try not to influence their answers by making suggestions or asking leading questions, and take notes you can refer to later when analyzing the situation.

Discuss as a Team

Once you’ve understood the situation, you can bring your project team together to find a solution. Your goal here as a project manager is to act as a mediator and create a respectful, solution-oriented environment:

  • Set clear expectations: Project team members should remain calm, listen to one another, consider each other’s points of view, and not interrupt.
  • Try to find common ground among participants that relates to the project goals. What do you all want to achieve, and how can you get there together?
  • Whenever necessary, guide the conversation away from personal attacks and anecdotes about the past and back to finding a solution.
  • If things become heated, take a break and reconvene once everybody’s had a chance to calm down.
Create a Plan of Action

The goal of these discussions is to create a plan of action that will guide the project toward successful completion while balancing everybody’s interests and concerns.

Create a document that everybody can review and sign off on. Do your best to balance project requirements and the expectations of your stakeholders while supporting individual team members.

While you may not be able to please everybody, a clear document that explains your decision in objective terms and relates to the project’s goal will help keep the peace.

Follow Up

For project managers, conflict resolution doesn’t end once you’ve reached an agreement. You need to ensure that everybody sticks to the plan and deals with any lingering “bad blood.”

Following a conflict, a team member may feel like they haven’t been heard or taken seriously, that the other party’s interest took precedence over their own, or they had little influence over the outcome.

Watch for these frustrations and offer support, reassurance, and guidance as necessary to keep everyone on the same page.

4. Insufficient Resources

4. Insufficient Resources

As a project manager, there are few things more frustrating than feeling like you don’t have the resources to meet your objectives.

Your team members usually share frustration from project constraints. They may feel like they’re being asked to do too much in too little time or to complete tasks outside their areas of responsibility or expertise.

Typically, these project constraints can’t be simply ignored or even renegotiated. This makes the project manager’s task of balancing requirements and resources all the more difficult—and all the more impressive when done well.

How to Deal With Insufficient Resources

Below, we look at a few strategies for dealing with tight budgets, short deadlines, and skills gaps. But first, it’s worth highlighting the critical role of a detailed project plan in budgeting and scheduling.

The project planning phase is arguably the most important of the five phases of project management outlined by the Project Management Institute.

Indeed, careful planning and risk management can mitigate many of the resource-related problems project managers face.

Recommended Read:

During the planning phase, be sure to:

Allocate Resources Based on Project PrioritiesUse Historical DataSet Clear Expectations
Allocate Resources Based on Project Priorities

Determine which aspects of your entire project are most critical to its success and allocate your available resources accordingly. Managing projects like this ensures the most important tasks have the resources they need to be completed on time.

Use Historical Data

Look back at similar past projects to understand how resources were used. This will give you a better idea of the resources you’ll actually need, leading to better planning and less waste. This is key to ensuring you avoid insufficient risk management and the consequences this has on your projects.

Read More:

Set Clear Expectations

Set clear expectations with stakeholders and, if applicable, the client. This will help mitigate problems in the future and give you a leg to stand on if and when problems arise.

During project execution, follow these best practices when faced with the common project management challenge of resource constraints:

Use Resource Management SoftwareCrowdsource CreativityPrioritize Tasks and ObjectivesCommunicate Progress and Project Risks
Use Resource Management Software

Use resource management software to track progress and help with risk management to foresee bottlenecks and spot opportunities to reallocate resources. Project management software is an invaluable resource for anyone in a project management role.

Crowdsource Creativity

Crowdsource creativity and innovation from your team. Open and effective communication about constraints can help project managers and their teams brainstorm creative solutions together.

Just be careful not to burden your team with resource allocation issues when they’re busy or stressed out.

Prioritize Tasks and Objectives

Carefully weigh the cost and value of individual features to prioritize tasks and objectives to keep to project timelines. Make this data and your conclusions available to the team and stakeholders. Again, we can’t emphasize enough how valuable project management software is for this.

Communicate Progress and Project Risks

Update stakeholders on the project schedule and communicate the risk management plan and prioritization regularly and early so there are no nasty surprises at the end of the project.

As a project manager, managing expectations is essential when operating with limited or insufficient resources.

5. Unclear Goals and Expectations

5. Unclear Goals and Expectations

Lack of clarity can lead to financial loss, delays, conflict, and frustration, amongst other project management issues — as a project manager, setting clear goals and expectations is important.

But it’s also an aspect of project management that many project managers find especially challenging.

In project management, communicating objectives and requirements to different stakeholders and team members comes with experience, but there are a few things you can do to improve clarity along the way.

How to Overcome Unclear Goals and Expectations

Here are some ways you can overcome these project management challenges:

Use a Goal-Setting FrameworkEncourage Team Members to Ask QuestionsAsk People to Explain Their Objectives
Use a Goal-Setting Framework

For effective project management, use a goal-setting framework like SMART or CLEAR. Project managers have been using frameworks like these for decades because they work to ensure you don’t set unrealistic deadlines, for example. Adopt a protocol for goals and stick with it throughout the project.

Encourage Team Members to Ask Questions

During meetings, in emails and messages, in scope documents, and even in individual task descriptions, encourage team members to reach out if they’re not 100% sure what’s expected of them.

Ask People to Explain Their Objectives

Project managers can do this at the start of a project and for individual objectives. It’s the best way to ensure you and your team have the same understanding of a task’s requirements and how it should be done.

It also provides an opportunity for additional guidance and suggestions from the team as a whole. You’ll be amazed at how often you can preempt minor and even major misunderstandings that could otherwise threaten project progress or completion.



Monday – Affordable, Easy to Use, and Powerful

  • 10+ Project Views
  • Generous Free Plan
  • Powerful Workflow Automation

Project managers face major challenges that can lead to project failure, from the tricky balance of scope creep and unrealistic deadlines and change control to the essential art of stakeholder engagement and mismanaging resource availability.

Addressing these management challenges with practical strategies and a project management tool not only alleviates stress throughout the project’s life cycle but also sets the stage for project success.

Use our tips above to overcome common project management challenges in concert with the right project management software to ensure your projects stay on track and within budget.

Read More:

What is the biggest challenge in project management?

What 3 things affect project management the most?

Why do project managers fail?

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Christian Rigg
Business Management Expert
Christian Rigg
Business Management Expert

Christian holds a BSc in Psychology with an emphasis on organizational management and is the current Head of Operations for Eleven Media, where he oversees day-to-day business operations, manages a team of project and account managers, and otherwise greases the sticky wheels of company-wide collaboration. Prior to this, he managed operations for a hotel chain in the South of France while completing a Masters in History. When not geeking out over automations and data analysis, he can usually be found cycling and hiking around the French Riviera.