Businesses are built around people, processes and projects.  A project can be defined as any activity with a clear start and end date.  As many of us will be involved in corporate projects at one point or another, it is helpful to understand what the key challenges are to any new project.  Summarized below are four key challenges that you should consider when starting a new project.  These challenges can easily derail or cause your project to be a waste of valuable time and resources.

1. Lack of Collaboration

A project usually contains multiple people that maybe fully or partially staffed on the project.  Collaboration is key for both project members internally and between members of the project and the greater organization.  Initially brainstorming and differing opinions are helpful to figure out what directions the project should take.  But after this initial "storming" phase it is important to switch to a "norming" phase and build a sense of belonging within the project team.  This collaborative attitude will make agreeing on strategy, undertaking tasks and following through on responsibilities much easier.

2. Lack of Granular Information

Data is not knowledge, knowledge isn’t wisdom and wisdom is not foresight.  However, data is the first step to eventually achieving foresight and successful project outcomes.  Today's companies are swimming with data.  Various systems capture different performance attributes but its not always clear who controls these systems and what exact data is being captured.  Once you have identified what data needs to be tracked and where it lies, the next step is developing acceptable metrics to measure and benchmark project performance.  Having tangible metrics that can quantify performance goals also helps get project members and the greater organization on the same page.

3. Inadequate Senior Management Commitment and Buy-in

Projects without senior management buy in can quickly go nowhere.  Even if project members are able to keep the project moving, months of work may simply result in a PowerPoint presentation gathering dust in someone's office.  Projects need higher management support in regards to direction setting and the will and appetite to implement findings.  Senior management buy in can also help projects from being captured by one department vs. serving the best interests of the company as a whole.  Communication from higher management on the merit of the project, its role within the business and the reason for its existence, can help motivate the project team and also open doors within the rest of the company.

4. Planning Poorly for Success

Poor project budgeting, planning and forecasting can doom a project from the very beginning.  Often project planning is done in a top-down manner without getting input from those on the ground.  Many times project members lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel and overall project direction when they are unable to visualize how exactly they contribute to the overall project plan.  Clear project plans, which are updated on a regular basis, can go a long way in keeping staff motivated and ensuring that the project is headed in the right direction.