Many small businesses struggle with team miscommunications, meeting client deadlines, overrun on client projects and so on. But a small business cannot afford to waste time when it comes to accomplishing a project. This is where project management helps. Project management maps out a specific, seemingly inflexible process for initiating, monitoring and closing a project, all according to an established methodology. There are many different methods, approaches and project management software, depending on your industry and type of project. Small businesses don’t have the luxury of abundant resources to accomplish each task. It’s likely that every employee in your business wears several hats at a time. That’s why project management is so useful for small business. It will help you make the most of your resources. Here’s a five step method to take into account every time you are thinking of starting a project to avoid complications and wasted effort:
- Goals: The first step is to define the “Why” of your project. Think about and write down what you want to achieve at the conclusion of this project. This is the basic foundation of your project and what will guide you along the way. Startups and entrepreneurs often try to do a million things at once with limited staff, so crafting a vision is essential for ensuring project success.
- Be Specific: At this step you should define an estimate of how long each of the defined tasks will take to be completed.
- Make a plan but stay flexible: Once you have your goal or your outcome in place, the second step in implementing project management is to create a plan. A pothole for projects is not following the plan you made to complete the project. The plan is important but can change. To schedule your plan, make a project timeline with milestones, or major phases of the project, to break down the steps or tasks you’ll have to take to complete in order to finish the project in the time allotted. Software that generates Project Evaluation and Review Technique, or PERT charts, and Gantt charts lets you keep track of the progress of work. The Work Breakdown Structures in these programs let you divide each part of the work into separate actions that you can evaluate for degree of completion, while the PERT or Gantt charts let you determine progress.
- Executing: It’s time to get things done. Check your plan daily and follow the tasks you have identified. Problems can appear, so update your plan as you go to keep everything on track. Most important in the execution phase is not straying from your plan.
- Review: A key function for project management is to learn from the experience. Learning is especially important for small businesses, because most of the same people will carry out the same work for future projects. A collaborative atmosphere without assigning blame is important for effective evaluation. Each team member has to be able to present concerns and have them addressed. The process has to acknowledge that the people who carry out the work are the most authoritative on its performance. An effective evaluation function at the end of the project management process strengthens team cohesion and improves company morale.