Project-Management-for-Small-Businesses

Expert’s Tips To Project Management For Small Businesses

When starting a small business, there is always a profound hope that someday it will turn into a huge success. This is not an impossible feat, but there are a lot of factors to consider in order to make your small ventures into huge enterprises. 

In every business, there are structures that must be followed accordingly so success is guaranteed. This is why project management plays an important role in small businesses, because it will help them deliver great services to their customers.

Small businesses involve several industries, and these include manufacturing and mining, wholesale trade, retail and service, general and heavy construction, and agriculture among many others. 

They are defined by having fewer employees and a lesser annual revenue as compared to a huge corporation. They may be privately owned by a corporation, partnership, or an individual. 

Despite being referred to as small, the risks and plans involved with starting one is huge and this is not to be taken lightly.

Project management involves managing various processes, such as product development and testing, advertising and marketing, and customer service. 

It helps you capture the correct procedures for your business, so risks and failures can be avoided as much as possible.

Its Definition

In its very essence, project management is the planning and organizing of a business’ assets in order to complete tasks and to attain all objectives. 

For sure, every business has their own set of objectives they want to achieve, and this guides them with the way they are marketing their success. But every goal and objective must clearly be defined. 

It must be determined from the beginning how these goals and objectives will be completed. A business’ assets include several components, such as finances, technology, and human resources among many others.

There must be a close monitoring to these components, and quality control must be ensured so their completion will meet a certain standard.

To better understand the concept of project management, imagine a blueprint being made by an architect. This is where he organizes all his ideas so as to get a concrete image of what he is trying to accomplish. 

He follows his procedures so he will complete each section of his blueprint. Now, the project manager’s task involves placing all the architect’s ideas together. 

The former can also be tasked to manage the budget and time frame, which means he will make sure that every team member will accomplish the project on time and on budget.

Project management is imperative for several industries, such as construction, engineering, and IT companies. 

However, at the age of technology, small businesses can be ventured and explored further due to the rising statistics of online consumers. 

This is not to say that online businesses are limited to the online sphere, but marketing certainly has changed due to the changes brought by the digital age. In actuality, there are several types of project management which involves different methodologies and techniques, and these are traditional, waterfall, agile, six sigma, Kanban, and lean.

Every industry has their own methodologies or frameworks, and so they develop their project management around their own specific needs.

What is its Importance?

It has been found out that most small business owners are afraid to take on project managers because they are afraid of the risks that will come. For the most part, what makes them hesitate to full grasp project management is they are clueless to the benefits they will receive from such a set-up. 

During this climate, the market proves to get more and more competitive as the days go by, which means that it will be harder for small business owners to have a breakthrough. Project management helps this difficulty turn into a simple step-by-step process.

Small business owners may overlook their significance in the market, and this can be avoided by looking at the estimation of the business’ costs. 

It provides a consistent system wherein there will be a clear estimate of every project’s resources and budget, which will then lead to grasping the full impact of a project on their resources.

Regulating the system can also help your project manager and marketing team communicate better.

One of the biggest contributions of project management to your small business is its capability to unlock the true potential of your resources. Resource planning should not be taken lightly as this will make clear cut signs for the success of your launch. 

Every resource must be utilized to their fullest so not a single one can be exploited or wasted. This will eventually guide you to placing the right project towards their proper resource counterparts. 

Project prioritization is another significant factor that must not be overlooked, and proper project management helps business owners locate the tasks that need to be put first. When placed in the right resources, projects will be maintained in a practical and optimized way. 

At times, all it takes for small business ventures is to utilize the right resources at the perfect time and they can immediately maximize the success of their projects.

Types of Project Management

Understanding the needs of your small business can help you choose what type of project management you should follow. 

The different types of project management are specifically catered to fit different models and frameworks since every business has different objectives.

1. Traditional Project Management

Since this is referred to as the traditional approach, of course, it involves linearity to its methodology. This established methodology comes with a lot of benefits due to its structured sequence, wherein every step follows an order: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure. 

Everything is fixed and its linear processes, like documentation for instance, is at its forefront. Some of its benefits include thoroughly defined objectives, manageable processes, as well as a transparent documentation and accountability. 

Nowadays, this approach is no longer that favored by companies since there is a lack of involvement from customers and problems are not resolved by the entire team but merely by a few superiors. 

However, if this is something that you deem fit as favorable for your objectives, then the traditional type is the way for you to go. Before everything is going to get implemented, there is a strict review of the processes first and user requirements are clearly defined. This type suits large-scale projects.

2. Waterfall Project Management

Coming from its name, the approach is linear and the development flows in one direction. This type is quite similar to the traditional project management; however, its difference is it will not start a new task unless the previous one is finished. 

This is the most straightforward way to manage a project and since it intends to complete tasks before starting new ones, projects must have a single timeline and changes are not often being welcomed since they are costly. Since there is a clearly defined role for everyone, changes are seen as a roadblock to success.

If your small business comes with long and detailed plans, and requires each phase to be finished before venturing to another one, then this is the right choice. 

The stages that you will go through when choosing this type of project management involves the following: analyzing requirements, building the system design, implementing the system, testing, delivering the product to the public, and maintaining the service.

3. Agile Project Management

This is most known as the approach being used by the computer software industry. Unlike the traditional type, this does not rely on linearity and it does not get fazed by changes.

It has more room for improvement since there is a continuous process of development. It is heavily reliant on teamwork and collaborations, and it is flexible when it comes to approaching projects. 

The agile manifesto has twelve core principles, but its main values focuses on individuals and interactions instead of processes and tools, a proper software instead of a detailed documentation, customer input instead of negotiation, and lastly, flexibility surrounding change instead of a blind reliance on rigid rules.

Lesser time on planning does not mean that the quality will not be good, it simply means that projects are divided into parts where changes and developments can be made. 

Each member of the team shares ownership of the project; therefore, everyone is very much involved with the progress. This is meant to create a healthier working environment, and mistakes do not mean the entire production should be put to a halt.

Here is the YouTube Video explains the key differences, advantages, and disadvantages of Agile over Waterfall project management.

4. Lean Project Management

Based on its name, this approach avoids any sort of excess, whether of time or any other resources. It aims to maximize the value of the business without prioritizing excess. 

This comes from Japanese manufacturing principles as it was developed during the 1950s by Toyota. The term in itself was coined during the 1980s. Providing the needs of the business with the minimum amount of materials, equipment, labor, and space is the driving principle of this type of project management.

It helps businesses avoid the overuse of equipment and employees, the cost of additional value when having activities that consume resources, and operational inconsistencies. The latter only decreases the productivity of the business in the long run.

If you are looking to improve your business even further without having to sacrifice much of your resources, then this greatly benefits you. It also very much helps lower your inventory, which means you do not have to spend much money on storage costs.

5. Six Sigma

This type of project management aims to focus on data and statistical analysis. This is most common for large manufacturing businesses, but this can work on small business ventures as well depending on the strategy. 

The reason why most manufacturing businesses prefer this method is because they want to reduce the defects in their products so they can improve the quality. 

But small businesses may also use this in order to develop more efficient processes so as to complete projects faster and consequently, to stay relevant in the market.

It targets the weak points in your system and finds solutions so there will be lesser errors in the outputs. This is done by visualizing how services can be provided or transferred onto the hands of customers. 

Control functions are implemented throughout the development stages and so the outcome will result to what business owners have in mind. This comes with a lot of testing and refinements for the system, so defects will be avoided altogether in the future.

6. Kanban Technique

This project management does not rely on linearity, rather it visualizes the flow of work by placing a limit on works in progress. Meaning, projects will not be left unattended to and the goal is to accomplish them as soon as possible. 

This method is a way to manage and improve the flow systems of small businesses. It does not thrive on being organized into specific timeboxes, and so it is perfectly applicable to small business ventures that deals with unpredictability. 

For instance, if you are ready to place the output as soon as it is ready instead of waiting for other work items to come through, then this is the correct path to follow.

This methodology also very much values transparency in a way that information must be shared in a straightforward manner as it believes this will improve the flow of business value. 

It also highlights on team collaboration as it wants to show consideration to every individual involved in making the system work. At its forefront, leadership is imperative in order to achieve quality and improvement.

Tips to an Effective Project Management

For small businesses, most of their success mean sticking to a proposed timeline and budget. Several advisors have proposed that agile project management practices will serve small businesses the best because they respond well to certain issues that may arise while the projects are ongoing. 

Of course, this may be subjective for some business owners. Knowing which type of project management to choose is imperative for every business, but it does not end there.

Here are a few tips that may help small business owners achieve an effective project management:

1. Have a definite schedule

There is a saying that is often being shared, especially by adults: Time is money. The longer the processes will go on, the higher the costs and the risks will be involved. This rings true for businesses as all projects have a proposed timeline. 

An effective project management makes sure that the tasks are being accomplished in accordance to the schedule. There are several software programs nowadays that may help you keep track of the flow of your projects. This lets you stay on top of your schedule so you will not be late when it comes to your production or deliveries.

2. Aim to be flexible

For most small business owners, their market ventures will be limited by their resources. More opportunities will come knocking on your door when you open yourself up to the possibilities of change. 

There is a need to adapt to the daily changes in the workplace and in the market, as everything can rise and fluctuate depending on the climate. If your business is not going to prioritize flexibility, then challenges and disruptions may easily let you crumble. 

Flexibility also allows for new methods and processes, which in turn will increase the efficiency and productivity of the business.

3. Keep an eye on expenses

It should come as no surprise that tracking your expenses is an absolute must. After all, this is the foundation of every business. Often, when it comes to small businesses, there involves limited financial resources and so keeping an eye on daily expenses is vital to their entire system. 

This will help owners understand which items cost the most as well as prepare for estimated costs, purchases, and payments. Account tracking can also help with the business’ transparency, so should there be any discrepancies when it comes to their purchases, they will be spotted and fixed right away.

4. Take control

Control functions help you place limitations on your budget as well as prevent major discrepancies to happen. These also allow you to properly take control of your business schedule. 

In order there to be a better control, you may place milestones for you to follow. Identifying the defining moments of your business can be achieved by providing the life cycle of a project. 

This includesinitiation, planning, execution, and closure; all of these elements are needed in order to be able to fulfill the expectations from your business. Seeing your progress from the beginning can help direct you towards a better future for the business.

5. Evaluate each step

Evaluating each step does not mean assigning blame to people each time mistakes will occur; this simply means that each project should give you an important lesson to carry so there will be tremendous growth for the business. 

Learning from past experiences is crucial to making a small business stand out as it will eventually bring you one step closer to turning it into an enterprise. Evaluation will also help promote a more collaborative atmosphere since each team member gets to share their input regarding each project. 

This will strengthen the spirit of the business as there will be a better future to look forward to with each success.

Best Project Management Tools for Small Business Owners

At the age of technology, it is increasingly easier for small business owners to manage their systems. There are a lot of helpful tools that can guide small business owners with how they can control their project management. 

Having the right systems involved with the business can increase the growth and maximize the resources. Some paid subscriptions may cost a little bit more money, but eventually, these will be returned back to the business due to their stability and efficiency. 

Here are a few tools that are proven to be worthy for small business owners:

1. Active Collab

This app can help your team to stay organized with your multitude of projects and emails. However, it goes beyond that as it has plenty of other add-ons that comes with the app. 

Currently, thousands of small business owners use the app for their ventures, and it has proven to be a great option for them. The app combines task management, time management, and account statements into one easy-to-use software. 

Every single one of your data will be stored into a single space, and so your entire team can communicate and get their information from a single source. 

One of its perks is having a free trial for a month which can help you assess and decide whether this is the correct platform for you. In this platform, you may receive a detailed overview of your activities, tasks, and invoices.

2. Trello

If your business is leaning more towards the agile methodology or the Kanban technique approach, then this app will be the most helpful for you. Every project will be presented in a platform where the entire team can have a shared perspective. 

The greatest thing about this online platform is it is completely free, so if you are only starting out with your business, then this will be a great foundation. The platform allows for you to view all your tasks on screen, and so if you rely more on visual aids, this is perfect. 

Its boards where you can include lists are simple and effective with the way they carry out the projects you need to prioritize the most. You may eventually upgrade your account by opting to purchase the Business Class option which is less than 10 dollars a month.

3. Teamwork Projects

Not to be underestimated, this software app is one of the best project management apps for small businesses. Their intuitive interface is equipped with all the necessary tools needed in order for team members to properly manage their projects. 

This will also help you track your time management, resources, bills, and clients among many other things. Receiving a quicker status update from a single source can help you achieve your milestones at a faster rate. This can also help you track which members of your team are assigned to specific tasks.

One of its key features is it helps small businesses save time by simplifying each project planning and setup and allowing owners to use custom project templates. By reducing manual work, small business owners are allowed to have the time to optimize on other projects.

Infographics: Project Management for Small Business

Summary

In totality, project management is necessary for small business owners to thrive in their new ventures. It helps them reach their full potential without sacrificing any of their resources along the way. 

No doubt every business will face their own set of difficulties in the market, but having the proper project management means knowing how to respond should those challenges come. 

Moreover, knowing the set-up of your business and the proper methodologies and practices that fit yours the best can greatly save you time and money. There are different methodologies to choose from, but there are also effective project management tips to keep in mind so as to avoid discrepancies. 

Lastly, there are tools nowadays that can greatly aid small business owners. These tools are designed to help their businesses to thrive in a setting that will benefit each team member.

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