While preparing for the “Project Management Professional (PMP)” examination or managing a project, a crucial task is to address and eliminate barriers, setbacks, and blockers for your team. This task requires ample communication, team engagement, and problem-solving expertise. The term “blockers” refers to any barrier that prevents the team from making progress. They can originate from various sources like inadequate resources, lack of clarity, or structural changes in the organization.

Table of Contents

1. Identifying Blockers:

The first step in removing impediments is to identify them. This can be a challenge in large projects with diverse teams. However, a seasoned project manager can encourage their team to voice their concerns and obstacles without fear of backlash. Regular team meetings, individual catch-ups, and project tracking software can also help identify issues at an early stage.

Many project managers use a blocker clustering methodology, where similar problems are grouped. This method allows for pattern recognition and prioritization of challenges.

2. Prioritizing Blockers:

Some blockers are more urgent than others and might put the project’s deadline at risk. It is essential to prioritize these and work to remove them first. An effective way to prioritize is by using the MoSCoW method – a technique that divides requirements into four categories: Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have.

Category Explanation
Must have These blockers are crucial and must be resolved immediately
Should have They are important but not vital
Could have These would be nice to have but the project can proceed without it
Won’t have These might come into effect in future projects but aren’t necessary resolved currently

3. Removing Blockers:

Once you have identified and prioritized blockers, it’s time to work on removing them. This could involve additional resource allocation, clarifying project goals, or addressing internal conflicts within the team.

For example, if a team member is finding it challenging due to inadequate equipment, the project manager should advocate for better resources or adjust tasks to suit their current capacities. If an issue lies within the scope of the project, the project manager should initiate a scope revision process to gain higher clarity.

4. Preventing Future Blockers:

Preventing future blockers requires continuous attention and strategy. Keeping open lines of communication, encouraging team members to raise concerns, and maintaining a constant feedback loop can prevent potential blockers from ever arising. Regularly reviewing the project’s goals and outputs will also help identify possible future blockers.


In conclusion, effectively addressing and removing impediments, obstacles, and blockers are critical skills for a project manager. These skills are also essential when preparing for the “Project Management Professional (PMP)” examination. Proper identification, prioritization, and removal of these blockers can ultimately improve your team’s productivity and lead to a successful project outcome.

Practice Test

True or False: It’s the responsibility of the project manager to identify and remove any obstacles, impediments, and blockers for the team?

Answer: True

Explanation: As a part of their role, project managers are expected to facilitate and manage changes in order to remove impediments and clear the path for the team.

What is the first step a project manager should take in dealing with obstacles or impediments?

  • A. Ignore the blocker and move on
  • B. Analyze the blocker and its potential impacts
  • C. Tell the team to deal with it
  • D. Escalate the issue to senior management immediately

Answer: B. Analyze the blocker and its potential impacts

Explanation: The project manager first needs to analyze and understand the nature of the blocker, along with its potential impact on the project.

In Scrum, who is primarily responsible for removing impediments?

  • A. Development team
  • B. Product owner
  • C. Scrum master
  • D. Stakeholders

Answer: C. Scrum master

Explanation: In Scrum, the Scrum Master is responsible for removing impediments that the development team encounters.

True or False: The management of project risks includes identification and removal of potential obstacles or impediments.

Answer: True

Explanation: Risk management is about anticipate and mitigate potential issues, which includes identification and proactive removal of possible obstacles or impediments.

Which of the following tools can a project manager use to identify and address impediments?

  • A. PERT chart
  • B. Risk register
  • C. Gantt chart
  • D. All of the above

Answer: D. All of the above

Explanation: All of these tools help the project manager in project planning, tracking, and management, including identifying and handling impediments.

True or False: All issues that arise during a project can be treated as impediments.

Answer: False

Explanation: Not all issues are impediments. Impediments are specifically obstacles that block or slow down the project progress.

Impediments, once identified, should be:

  • A. Ignored
  • B. Managed and tracked until they are resolved
  • C. Reported to the team and left to them to resolve
  • D. Discussed only in project review meetings

Answer: B. Managed and tracked until they are resolved

Explanation: Once impediments are identified, they should be managed and closely tracked by the project manager until they are resolved.

Which of these is NOT a common project impediment?

  • A. Lack of resources
  • B. Unclear business requirements
  • C. Team conflict
  • D. Excessive budget

Answer: D. Excessive budget

Explanation: While managing budget is crucial to a project, an excessive budget doesn’t inhibit team progress and is not typically considered an impediment.

True or False: A skilled project manager does not need the team’s input to identify and address impediments.

Answer: False

Explanation: A project manager must engage the team in identifying potential obstacles and finding solutions. Every team member’s perspective is valuable in this process.

Fine-tuning the project plan to deal with an impediment is an example of:

  • A. Risk response
  • B. Quality assurance
  • C. Stakeholder management
  • D. Scope creep

Answer: A. Risk response

Explanation: Adjusting the project plan to deal with obstacles is part of managing risks and taking appropriate risk response actions.

Interview Questions

What is the role of a Project Manager in addressing and removing impediments, obstacles, and blockers for the team?

A Project Manager’s role is pivotal in identifying, addressing and removing any impediments, obstacles, or blockers that the teams might face. This includes evaluating the issues calmly and logically, prioritizing them based on their impact on the project, and finding feasible solutions. They also have to ensure smooth communication and collaboration among team members while addressing these issues.

What is the first step a Project Manager should take towards addressing an obstacle or impediment?

The first step is to identify and fully understand the obstacle or impediment. This involves gathering information about the obstacle from all relevant sources, assessing its impact and potential risks, and clarifying any doubts for a clear understanding of the problem.

What can be considered as an impediment in a project?

An impediment in a project could be anything that slows down the project process or potentially jeopardizes its success. It could be a technical issue, lack of resources, team conflicts, external factors, or even unclear project guidelines or lack of necessary skills within the team.

Why is prioritization of obstacles necessary in project management?

Prioritization of obstacles is necessary because it allows the Project Manager to focus on resolving the most critical issues that can significantly impact the project timeline or outcome first, while less critical issues can be addressed subsequently.

What tool can be used to track and prioritize the obstacles or blockers in a project?

Risk register or a project management software are tools that can be used to track and prioritize the obstacles or blockers. They help in listing down all the risks, assigning their priorities, impact and possible solutions.

Can a stakeholder be a potential obstacle in project management?

Yes, at times, the actions or decisions, or lack thereof, of a stakeholder can serve as an obstacle. This can include a delay in decision-making, non-approval of required resources, or a communication gap.

How should a Project Manager deal with team conflicts as an obstacle?

A Project Manager should handle team conflicts by facilitating open communication and resolution. This begins with understanding the root cause of the conflict, hearing out all parties, promoting collaboration and agreement, and possibly bringing in a neutral third party if needed.

Why is effective communication significant in addressing and eliminating obstacles?

Effective communication ensures that all team members and stakeholders are on the same page regarding the obstacle. It promotes understanding, collaboration and swift resolution. It also avoids misunderstandings that can further add to the obstacles.

How can risk management help in dealing with obstacles and impediments?

Risk management can help identify potential obstacles and impediments in advance so that the project team can be prepared with potential solutions or mitigations.

How can obstacles impact project timelines?

Obstacles can delay tasks or processes which, in turn, extends the project completion time. If not addressed timely, these obstacles can have a cumulative impact, causing significant delays in the project timeline.

Is it always the Project Manager’s responsibility to remove every obstacle or blocker?

While the Project Manager plays a central role in addressing obstacles, it’s a collaborative effort. The entire team, along with stakeholders, will often have roles to play in finding solutions and removing barriers.

What is an example of a structural impediment in project management?

Structural impediments refer to issues related to the project’s structure or organization, such as lack of resources, inadequate team skills, or undefined roles and responsibilities.

What is an example of a procedural impediment in project management?

Procedural impediments refer to issues related to the processes or methods used in the project, such as an ineffective communication process, unstructured project management process, or lack of standardized procedures.

Can the Project Manager’s approach be an obstacle to the project?

Yes, if the Project Manager’s approach is ineffective or inappropriate for the unique requirements of the project and its team, it could potentially serve as an obstacle.

What measures can be taken to prevent potential obstacles in project management?

Measures can include having a robust project plan, effective risk management, regular team meetings, continuous communication, training sessions for the team, and proactive stakeholder management.

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