In business, setting goals and working to achieve them is a constant. Business projects require different amounts of work, staff involvement, and budgets. To make sure you set goals for projects on a case-by-case basis, you can create small business project management plans.
Learn about project management basics, why it’s important for small businesses, and how to create successful project management programs at your company.
What is project management?
Project management is the process of managing a project from start to finish. This makes sure proper planning goes into the project. And, it prevents the project from getting off track.
Generally, a team works together under the leadership of a project manager to complete a certain project.
The team identifies their goals, then creates a plan detailing the scope of the project, resources they need, and how long it will take to complete.
Through project planning and management, the team tries to complete their project within their time frame without exceeding their budget.
There are five basic stages of project management, which are planning, initiating, executing, monitoring, and closing.
Most likely, no two projects at your business will be the same. Each one will be unique and require different goals, participants, budgets, and time frames. However, you can use the above stages as an outline for developing your project management plan.
Let’s say you own a greeting card company. Your business is looking to add a new line of cards to your offerings. You decide to act as project manager, so you assemble a project team consisting of your writers and designers.
Your time frame is two months, and your budget is $5,000. And, you must determine which resources you will need to complete the project (e.g., design software). You set smaller deadlines defining when you want content outlines from your writers, design drafts from your designers, and final projects completed. Under your project management plan, your team works together to achieve these goals.
Why is project management important?
Small business project management can be influential in reaching business goals you set in your small business growth strategy. Without a proper plan in place, your team might be all over the place when completing projects. Not being on track is costly and time-consuming.
Project management also impacts your small business profit margin. Things may not get done if you and your team don’t have an overall project scope, budget, and time frame. Your customers could become disgruntled and take their business elsewhere. And, you could end up spending too many resources on a project.
Employees might become more engaged when they can be part of planning and managing projects. This could decrease turnover rates. Your staff can come together to find innovative ways to achieve their goals, which could result in creative business ideas, stronger communication, and camaraderie. And, you can elect a new project manager for each project so employees take turns in a leadership position.
Overall, project management lets you gauge the success of your business projects. Setting goals and working to achieve them is an important part of running a successful business.
Creating a small business project management plan
Project management only works if you have a formal plan in place outlining project goals and how you and your employees will reach them.
Learn how project management can be more effective in your small business by using the following tips.
1. Narrow down the scope of the project
First, you need to plan the project’s purpose and exactly what the project is going to accomplish.
Identify problems in your business and determine your project goals. What do you hope the project will address? How will the project help your company?
Next, figure out how big the project will be and which employees will be part of it. You also need to decide the responsibilities each employee will have in achieving the goal.
Make sure to narrow down your scope and be as specific as you can. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew with your projects. Keep them focused on addressing one business need.
For example, you want to update your business logo. Avoid trying to add other things to this particular project, like trying to make your website stand out by updating it. Keep the project focused on simply updating your logo. You can make another project for updating your website.
2. Set time constraints and budgets for each task
An important part of planning a project is setting budgets and time frames. You should have an overall budget and time frame for the project itself. Then, you need to go into more detail for smaller tasks.
Explain when each team member needs to have a certain task done by. Create schedules to help them meet deadlines. Some tasks must be done chronologically while others can be completed at any time. Be clear about which tasks are which.
Budgets might include material costs, labor hours, or equipment. Partition budgets so employees don’t spend more than they should. Create a budget for each task. It might be a good idea to leave room for additional expenses when determining your overall project budget.
3. Make information accessible
Once you are in the initiating, executing, and monitoring phases of project management, project members need to stay connected. They need to transfer information to one another, provide status updates, determine whether they are on schedule, and assign tasks to other team members.
Keeping all members in the know is what project management is all about. Projects will become disorganized if employees don’t know what they’re doing and when they need to do it by.
Not only should information be accessible to all employees, it should be updated as well. If one team member completes a task and doesn’t report it, another team member could waste time performing the same task.
There are many project management tools you can use to transmit information to your staff. You can opt for project management software solutions for project scheduling, tracking, and reporting. Or, you can use other tools, like calendars, spreadsheets, and chat features to spread information.
At Patriot, we created a project tracker tool to manage our projects. When an employee or team needs something done, they can upload it to our project tracker, set deadlines, and assign other employees to look at it.
4. Assess results
After you close the project, you need to be able to compare project results to the original plan you created. Determine whether you reached your goals.
If you didn’t reach goals, what stood in your way? Was the project a success? What changes to your project management plan do you need to make for future projects?
Find out how your team worked together. And, assess whether the project management tools you used were effective. Although projects will vary, each one is an opportunity to make changes to your outline and improve the next.