Project management (PM) is usually associated with larger organisations, that have hundreds or thousands of employees that need to work together on big initiatives and projects. However, the basics of project management can greatly benefit small businesses looking to grow.
But hey, small businesses don’t have dedicated project managers!
That’s true, and is exactly why many don’t employ the advice I’m about to share with you. A pragmatic approach to the fundamentals of project management can help you when growing your small business with project management by focusing on two things: Improving your existing processes and identifying new projects.
After all, the Project Management Institue says PM is simply “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”
Growing your small business is first and foremost about getting the basics right. Improve your business processes and keep your project plans simple.
Improve Project Success by Improving your Processes
A business that has the right processes in place will be successful—it’s that simple. Sure, your current processes may be working for you, but your aim is to grow your business. So if your current processes aren’t reaping great results in your projects then it’s time to mix it up.
To make a start towards growth you need to reevaluate what you’re doing. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but pinpoint places where you can improve when managing your projects by outlining your functions and sharpening your processes.
First, you have to recognise the functions which are required for your business to carry out its day to day tasks in each department. For example, a small business needs to take care of its finances. It has to deal with invoices, orders, returns and sometimes disputes with customers. After acknowledging what your functions are you can now start to identify your processes.
Processes are how your business goes about how it does things. How does the finance team record invoices and how does it process orders? Make a list of every activity on what makes up the process and how they interact with each other.
Mindtools in its article about Improving business processes gives a few examples of how to identify flawed processes and weak spots:
- Where do team members or customers get frustrated?
- Which of these steps creates a bottleneck?
- Where do costs go up and/or quality go down?
- Which of these steps requires the most time, or causes the most delays?
- Speak to the people who are affected by the process. What do they think is wrong with it? And what suggestions do they have for improving it?
Acknowledging and fixing your flawed processes is the first step to future business success.
Having a process in place allows you and others in the business to follow a plan for consistency and can help you track performance when managing a project—essentially what needs to be done, who does it and how do they do it. With improved processes and performance you’ll really notice a difference in the growth of your business.
In a small business, time is money. Managing your team, customers and projects can demand a lot of your attention and communicating between your team via email, losing track of tasks and misplacing important documents in a mountain of files and emails can get frustrating. It’s 2018! Invest in great project management software and keep everything in one place.
Keep Your Project Plan Simple
When you have your processes improved it’s time to take a look at how you approach your projects.
A project can be anything from working on a new design for a client to going all out to increase traffic to your website, however, managing it can be a tricky operation.
Identifying projects that will help your business to grow in the direction you want can be testing, although worth the hard work. Gallup found that only 2.5% of companies complete 100% of their projects and at IBM only 40% of their projects meet their three core goals:
So how you manage your projects has an impact on overall success.
With that in mind, here’s what you need for your projects:
- The plan of what you want the project to achieve. The goal is growth. Ideally, you should embark on new projects that will see your goal realised by testing your current processes. Plan it out by managing what you have against what you want and how you’re going to get there. Having the right plan in place and executing it with the appropriate project management approach allows you to see what is working well and what needs some work for future projects.
- The certain budget set aside for the project. Have a look at your finances. E.g. what can you afford to spend on advertising?
- A start and end date in mind. To keep your project on track, you should set a start and end date. Timeframes are a great way to test the efficiency of your process.
- The team to get the job done. To get your project off the ground you need to calculate how many people you need to reach your goal. Having a mix of abilities, expertise and experience enables your team to share responsibilities within the project.
- Review progress at intervals. Assess how the new processes are being applied to this project.
- Have a closing analysis when the project is complete. What went well, what didn’t go so well and address them.
Key Steps to Growth Checklist
- What are the drivers of your business? The Corporate Finance Institute defines them as the key inputs and activities that drive the operational and financial results of a business. Classify what they are and implement the process into your everyday.
- Use what works for you and your team. It’ll take a bit of time to figure out what is productive for your business.
- Use project management software! Do yourself a favour and simplify things. Empower your staff and yourself with the tools for success. Keep your collaboration in one place so everyone on your team can access it.
- Do your research. Search around the web for how bigger businesses in the same field conduct their processes. Have a look at their online advertisements, websites and social media. See how they interact with customers and try to emulate some of the best bits.
- Be truthful about your weak spots.
- Be as flexible as possible. A benefit of small business is that they tend to be more adaptive to market demands.
- Evaluate every project when it’s finished. What went well? What could be improved? Find out the opinions of your team.
The basics of project management (PM) can really make a difference to your small business. Once you’ve identified the key functions and processes that drive growth, it’s important to apply proven PM practices to these to ensure consistent focus on the things that matter.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
Of course, successful teamwork is essential to growing your business and implementing what needs to be done. In such an interconnected world, it’s worth investing in a project management solution geared towards small businesses.
And so, for the shameless plug! We developed Tameday to solve the problems most small businesses and people encounter.
It’s a simple way to get everyone on the same page, to make team communication faster and to help everyone get work done more efficiently.
The best bit? It’s entirely free to get started!