How to Remove Project Blockers and Achieve Your Goals: Problem-Solving Strategies for Businesses
Do you feel like you’re constantly running into roadblocks on your projects? Are you struggling to find a way to get around them and achieve your goals? You are not alone.
Many businesses face project blockers that prevent them from reaching their objectives. In this article, we will discuss the most common project blockers and ways to remove them from your path. We will also give several examples of how businesses can overcome these barriers to success.
What is a project blocker?
A project blocker is an item or force that completely inhibits progress in a project. It can be something as simple as a missing piece of information, a change in scope, or even a person. Blockers can also be more complex, such as political changes or natural disasters. Basically, anything that prevents the project from moving forward can be considered a blocker.
Fortunately, project blockers are usually easy to identify. The flow of information in a project is controlled by the dependencies and tasks that must be completed before others. Project blockers stand in the way of these activities from being carried out. No matter the cause, project blockers can have a major impact on your ability to reach your goals.
Project Blocker Vs Impediment
Often, project blockers and impediments are used interchangeably. However, there is a distinction between the two.
An impediment is anything that slows down progress or makes it more difficult to achieve objectives. It can be an internal or external factor. For example, an internal impediment might be a lack of resources. An external one could be bad weather conditions.
A project blocker, on the other hand, is an impediment that completely stops progress. It is a showstopper that cannot be worked around.
Diagnosing the issue: Deeper analysis of causes for blockage
When you’ve discovered a project barrier, the next step is to investigate the scenario further to ensure that it doesn’t recur. Understanding your issues is crucial for preventing future difficulties. This can help you determine where the problem originates so you can detect, address, and never repeat it.
There are many different ways to approach this. One method is to use the Five Whys technique. This involves asking why the problem occurred five times to get to the root cause of the issue.
For example, let’s say your team is having difficulty meeting deadlines.
- Why are we not meeting deadlines? Because we are not finishing our tasks on time.
- Why are we not finishing our tasks on time? Because we are not starting our tasks on time.
- Why are we not starting our tasks on time? Because we are not getting the information we need to start our tasks.
- Why are we not getting the information we need to start our tasks? Because no one is responding to our emails.
- Why is no one responding to our emails? Because they do not think it is urgent.
After asking the five whys, you can see that the root cause of the problem is that people do not think the task is urgent. You can then take steps to address this issue, such as setting clearer deadlines or sending reminders.
Another approach is to use the Ishikawa diagram, also known as a fishbone diagram. This tool is used to visually brainstorm all of the potential causes of a problem. Once you have identified the possible causes, you can then start to narrow down which one is the most likely cause of the issue.
For example, let’s say you’re trying to improve your team’s productivity. Potential causes:
- Lack of training
- Poor communication
- Inefficient processes
- Unclear goals
After brainstorming the potential causes, you can then start to investigate which one is the most likely cause of the problem. This will help you focus your efforts on the right areas so you can make the most impact.
The most important thing is to take action to address the issue. Once you’ve diagnosed the problem, you can start to put a plan in place to fix it. This might involve changes to processes, communication, or training. Whatever the solution is, it’s important to make sure that everyone is on board and understands what needs to be done.
What are the most common blockers in project management?
There are several different types of project blockers, but some are more common than others. The most common include:
- People Blockers
- Time Blockers
- Dependency Blockers
- Feedback loop Blockers
- Communication Blocker
- Technological Blockers
We’ll tackle each one of these in more detail below.
1. People blocker:
People can be blockers to a project’s success for all sorts of reasons. There might be an issue due to a conflict in personalities or a disagreement on the project’s direction. But not necessarily, it could also be due to a lack of skills or knowledge. Or even just onboarding a new team member who isn’t familiar with the project yet.
Not only that, but they may want to safeguard their concepts, projects, teams, departments, or even their career paths. Some people fear change while others pursue it for personal gain. Whatever the reason, it’s important to be aware of the potential for people to block your project’s progress.
- The first is to try and understand the root cause of the issue. Is there a personality clash? A disagreement on the direction?
- One way to overcome this is to build consensus among the stakeholders.
- Make sure everyone understands the goals of the project and how they will benefit from its successful completion.
- Once you’ve identified the problem, you can start to put a plan in place to resolve it. This might involve mediation, training, or even just a change in communication style.
- The most important thing is to keep the lines of communication open and try to find a resolution that works for everyone.
- Be prepared to make some compromises; not everyone will get everything they want, but if the project is successful, everyone will benefit.
2. Time Blockers:
Just as a house needs a foundation and walls to stand, a project needs a schedule to ensure its timely completion. A schedule provides the framework that holds everything together and helps avoid costly delays.
However, schedules can also be a major source of frustration when they are not followed. All too often, projects fall behind schedule due to a variety of factors, ranging from the unforeseen to the downright preventable. When this happens, it can result in a domino effect of delays that can jeopardize the entire project.
The key to avoiding these delays is to have a clear understanding of the factors that can cause them and take steps to mitigate them. By doing so, you can keep your project on track and avoid costly delays that can jeopardize its success.
Solutions: There are several steps to consider to overcome a time blocker.
- Try and figure out what caused the problem in the first place. Is there a deadline for completion? Are you lacking in personnel or funding?
- Build-in some flexibility into the schedule to account for unforeseen delays.
- If possible, try and break the project down into smaller tasks that can be completed more quickly.
- Consider creating a plan that might involve changing the deadline, allocating more resources, or even rethinking the entire project plan.
- The most important thing is to take action to address the issue.
3. Dependency Blocker:
All projects have dependencies. That’s just a fact of life. But when those dependencies start to pile up, they can become a major blocker to a project’s success. Here are just a few ways that dependency mishaps can occur:
- One team is waiting on another team to finish their work before they can start theirs. This can create a domino effect where one delayed task ends up delaying the entire project.
- A dependent task is more difficult or time-consuming than originally anticipated. This can throw off the entire project schedule and cause other tasks to be delayed as well.
- An outside vendor or service provider fails to deliver on their promises, resulting in a delay for the project team.
Dependencies can be a necessary evil, but when they’re not managed properly, they can quickly become a blocker to success.
- Establish clear dependencies between teams and tasks. This will help avoid confusion and ensure that everyone is aware of their role in the project.
- Regularly communicate with those who are responsible for tasks that your project depends on. This will help you stay up to date on their progress and identify potential risks early on.
- Build contingency plans into the schedule in case a dependent task is delayed. This will help avoid disruptions to the project if an unforeseen delay does occur.
4. Feedback Loop Blockers:
Feedback loop blockers can put a big damper on project momentum. There are several reasons why feedback loop mishaps can occur, and they can all spell disaster for a project.
First, feedback loops can be disrupted when communication breakdowns occur. This can happen when team members are not clear on their roles and responsibilities, or when there is a lack of transparency around project objectives.
Also, feedback loops can be disrupted when unrealistic deadlines are set, or when tasks are not properly scoped.
Finally, feedback loop blockers can also occur when there is a lack of trust between team members, or when team members are not invested in the success of the project.
- Establish clear roles and responsibilities for team members. This will help ensure that everyone is aware of their part in the project and can provide feedback accordingly.
- Make sure that objectives are clear and attainable. This will help team members understand what is expected of them and avoid setting unrealistic deadlines.
- Scope tasks properly to ensure that they are achievable. This will help prevent disruptions to the feedback loop and keep the project on track.
- Build trust among team members by being transparent and open to feedback. This will help ensure that everyone is invested in the success of the project.
5. Communication Blocker:
We’ve all been there. You’re in a meeting, trying to get everyone on the same page about the project at hand when suddenly things start going off the rails: disagreements arise, tempers flare, and before you know it, the meeting is over and nothing has been accomplished.
Or, perhaps you’re trying to work on a deliverable, but you can’t seem to get feedback from your team members promptly. As a result, progress grinds to a halt and the project starts to fall behind schedule.
When it comes to project management, communication is key. Without effective communication, it’s difficult to maintain alignment among team members and keep everyone on track.
Furthermore, communication breakdowns can lead to frustration and conflict, which can quickly derail even the best-laid plans.
- To avoid these communication blockers and keep your project moving forward,
- Be sure to establish clear channels of communication from the outset and make sure everyone knows who is responsible for what.
- Set regular check-ins so that everyone is always aware of the project’s status and can provide input promptly.
- By paying attention to communication from the start, you can avoid potential blockers and ensure that your project stays on track for success.
6. Technological Blockers:
As any project manager knows, technology can be both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it can help to automate tasks and facilitate communication. On the other hand, it can also introduce new problems and complications. Technology blockers are one of the most common and frustrating types of issues that project managers have to deal with. They can occur for a variety of reasons, including poor communication, incompatible technology, and inadequate training.
Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to mitigate the impact of technology blockers.
- Make sure that everyone on your team is on the same page in terms of technology.
- Provide adequate training to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion.
- Be prepared to troubleshoot any problems that arise.
- The key is to have a backup plan in place in case of technical difficulties.
- It could be good to designate someone on your team as the “go-to” person for all things technical.
- By being proactive and prepared, you can avoid the frustration and delays that technology blockers can cause.
By being aware of the most common types of blockers, you can be prepared to deal with them quickly and efficiently. And by taking a step back, evaluating the situation, and brainstorming some possible solutions, you’ll be surprised how easy it can be to find a way around project management blockers.
Project management blockers are just like any other problem you might encounter in your professional life – they can be overcome with some creative thinking and problem-solving skills.