Top 5 Challenges of Project Managers

By Jennifer Whitt

There are all types of research out there on stakeholder buy-in, managing expectations, all types of things but these are actually the top five that I think project managers encounter the most.

  1. Dispelling PM myths about project managers and project management in general. It’s the myth that project managers are just paper pushers. They are just working on administrative stuff, that they are bullies, they are 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 in to their role and to the field of project management.
  2. Keeping up. There’s so much going on now in no matter whether it’s your industry, whether it’s technology, but it’s keeping up on not only 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, things constantly change, you have to re-craft and reorganize.
  3. Staying relevant. In other words, 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 these mobile phones, they are using social media, they are using new tools, also policies. What kind of policies are affecting the environment, our industry, whether it’s telecommunications technology, real estate, all types of industries and 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.
  4. Losing resources. So as things change, and they are higher priority projects, invariably you lose your people, or you budget. You know, the critical resource, the superstar on your project that you fear, omg if I lose that person I am 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.
  5. Standing firm. So there’s a saying, 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 them, meaning step up or go to bat for things in your group whether its resources, trying to fight for, 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 become more efficient. And 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 stakeholders’ expectations and all those things that the other research reports back.

Jennifer Whitt, PMP is a speaker, trainer, Certified Performance Coach, author, and company president of She is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and knows how difficult it can be to make time for classroom or online learning so she has developed a new way for Project Managers to Earn n’ Learn while on the go. For more information, please visit

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