Effective project management is an exercise in balance and consistency, ensuring every aspect of your organizational work flow is accounted for. Covering all the bases, each and every time you undertake commercial activities, instills confidence in collaborators and contributes to a positive culture in the workplace. Irregular practices, on the other hand, foster uncertainty, muddling outcomes.
Project management takes many forms. Large organizations may assign individual managers to each project, relying on their expertise guiding every aspect of a commercial endeavor. Though small companies may not have sufficient budgets to dedicate a point person to every project, small businesses nonetheless delegate responsibility for key elements of each project.
Small Business Entrepreneurs are Active Project Managers
Small business owners rely on staffers and collaborators for assistance managing projects, but founders are frequently involved in the process. From product development to marketing and cash flow management, entrepreneurs are elbow-deep in the mechanics of project management. Among other essential duties, owners may hire and train employees, provide customer care, and manage materials and inventory, often contributing on multiple levels.
Your ability to effectively manage projects is a key ingredient for commercial success. In particular, creating an efficient flow without losing sight of important details is a crucial concern for entrepreneurs. Understanding the scope and imperatives of each commercial effort ensures projects stay on track, but you must first acknowledge the big-picture benefits of prudent project management.
A recently published article defines project management as applying skills, knowledge, tools, and techniques to achieve a specific, defined goal. The author also identifies the importance of using a well-conceived, organized process to introduce, plan, and execute each project, guiding team members to deliver specific results, within an established time frame. Features of a commercial project include defining characteristics such as:
- A project has a beginning and an end – Ongoing ventures carry on without time limitations or strict parameters. Projects, on the other hand, are clearly defined by starting points and endings.
- Specific actions are required to complete a project – Although factors beyond your control can influence a project, specific, well-defined actions are the basis for completing any commercial effort.
- Each project has a defined scope – In practice, projects intersect and overlap, but effective project management defines the scope of a given project, preventing team members from meandering.
- Projects lead to unique outcomes – Defining an endgame – exactly what it is you intend to accomplish, defines a project. In turn, achieving a distinct, desired, outcome measures the success of a commercial campaign.
Facilitating Effective Project Management Within Your Organization
Effective project management sparks positive change and adds value to entrepreneurial endeavors. Recent CIO analysis cites research in the area, highlighting project management data. According to the article, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study sheds light on project management success rates. The company reviewed more than 10,500 projects, across various industries. The projects studied spanned 200 different companies in 30 countries. Among the details shared by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the study determined only 2.5% of the companies successfully completed 100-percent of their projects.
In another example featured in the CIO piece, a study published in the Harvard Business Review exclusively focused on IT projects. The study analyzed more than 1450 IT projects, finding consistent overruns above 25-percent. According to the review, one in every six IT projects had cost overruns of more than 200-percent on average, as well as schedule overruns of nearly 70-percent.
Further expanding upon the subject, a related article cited additional project management statistics, including a Wellingtone survey identifying the top three challenges facing project managers:
- Businesses attempt to manage too many projects.
- Project managers are poorly trained.
- Lack of funding undermines project success.
With so much evidence pointing to project management failures, there’s no question businesses can do a better job facilitating positive outcomes. Answering the perennial questions: Why? What? How? and When? is a good start for entrepreneurs establishing project management methodologies. The path to productive project management is paved with the following practices.
1. Broadly Identify What Needs to be Done
Projects emerge from organizational needs. Opening a new location, for example, is a project in and of itself, with a clearly established objective. Though it is a broader intention, expanding your presence on the web is also a distinct project, requiring similar attention. Whether it is a narrow, one-off, proposition or a segment of a larger vision, identifying the project at hand enables you to focus your plans on the elements required to achieve your goal.
During this early stage, identifying a project, you can begin assessing feasibility and measuring internal resources required to complete the project. Splitting the overreaching objective in to individual components may be helpful, enabling you to assess the project’s budget requirements and staffing concerns, as well as consulting with vendors and collaborators. The exercise begins to bring together internal and external stakeholders, gathering everyone on the “same page” before getting underway.
2. Outline Responsibilities
With a green-light project in mind, the next step is clearly delineating the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved. A project launch meeting provides opportunities for team members to ask questions and weigh-in on various aspects of the project. Your role as project manager includes specific responsibilities, such as designating desired outcomes and delegating tasks to the appropriate parties within your organization.
Assigning duties dispels confusion and lays the groundwork for an efficient work flow. Clearly articulating deliverables and defining each person’s role in the project empowers team members to achieve above and beyond expectations.
3. Define the Scope of Work
Creating a scope statement not only outlines the top objectives of the project, but also considers how you’ll reach your goals. This critical undertaking defines deliverables, as well as the criteria to be used measuring progress and project success. A comprehensive scope statement touches on areas such as:
- Goals – In addition to capturing the ultimate endgame for your project, you may wish to introduce intermediate objectives, helping to monitor how well you’re doing, sticking to the scope of the project.
- Metrics – How will you measure success? Without metrics in place, for evaluating project performance, you won’t know when you’ve successful completed the project.
- Defined Deliverables – Deliverables represent what you intend to produce with the project.
- Assumptions – Articulating the assumptions maintained about the project helps support a cohesive team effort. Failing to share assumptions with project collaborators can result in uncertainty down the road, when your own assumptions don’t line-up with those of other project stakeholders.
- Limitations – You don’t want to constrain your team, nor do you wish to deploy them on an impossible mission. Recognizing inherent limitations of a project helps create realistic expectations, without tying tem members’ hands.
4. Get the Job Done
With staff members aimed at specific tasks and resources assembled to get the job done, it’s time to execute the project, according to your plan. Rarely does everything unfold precisely as expected, so it is important to incorporate flexibility in to project planning. As you work toward your primary objective, monitoring conditions and making adjustments are essential responsibilities of an effective project manager. Equally as important to the success of the project, you must also communicate changes made along the way and mark milestones achieved by your team.
Consistent project management adds value and promotes growth. Whether you are adding to your sales team or launching a new product, utilizing proven practices ensure project management success.
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