Small business owners usually have a comprehensive understanding of their operations, particularly in the early days. That can change quickly, though. As the business grows, so does the number of moving parts.
Growth comes with its issues, often caused by blindspots since owners can only be directly involved in so many areas of the business. The need for end-to-end visibility requires business owners to implement systems to help them stay in the loop.
Project management aims to ensure that work gets done on time and within a set budget. You do this by ensuring resources are allocated efficiently, tasks are detailed, and everyone works as a team.
By implementing sound project management methods, you'll get improved efficiency, better resource allocation, improved customer satisfaction, and a competitive edge.
Want to know how?
In this article, we'll explore the benefits of project management and some pro tips from project management professionals to get you started.
What is good project management?
Project management isn't a silver bullet and won’t guarantee success for your business, but, if done right, it'll increase your chances.
Aspects of good project management include:
- Clear project goals and objectives (based on strategic goals)
- Well thought-out project scope definition
- Proper planning
- Proper communication
- Stakeholder management
- Time management
- Team collaboration
- Budget and cost control
- Proper tracking and monitoring
- Efficient feedback loop
Effective project managers create an environment where project team members can collaborate and contribute in the best way possible. They deliver successful projects by bringing their well-honed project management skills and using the project management methodology and tools that suit the project.
Importance of project management
When done well, project management has the following benefits for a small business:
Good project management entails outlining clear project goals and project requirements, setting project timelines, allocating work by skill, and organizing resources. Doing so will give you a considerable head-start in completing quality work on time.
Imagine a software development project where goals, timelines, and tasks are accurately planned and laid out. The result is a well-oiled machine where everyone understands their role, when to perform, and what they are working towards.
Better resource allocation
Very few businesses work with unlimited resources, if any.
When the work for a project is laid out in detailed tasks over a realistic timeline, it becomes much easier (and more accurate) to estimate the required resources needed to do the work.
Even better, with accurate resource planning comes better effort estimates and budgets.
For instance, the QA team in a software project is required when certain outcomes have been achieved. With an accurate resource plan, those resources will come in when needed (and not sit on their hands waiting for their work).
Increased customer satisfaction
In a recent report, 97% of customers and 98% of contact center managers agree that customer experience directly affects brand loyalty. Furthermore, 88% of these managers agree that brand loyalty impacts company revenue.
Customer satisfaction is critical for small businesses (and projects).
It all starts with detailed plans and consistent communication (so everyone knows what to expect).
During the project cycle, embrace customer feedback, be ready to adjust course on that feedback, and communicate often.
This is where the idea of a minimum viable product (MVP) before full development comes in handy. By building the concept of a product or service and soliciting customer feedback, you can gauge if you're going in the right direction.
In a nutshell, good project management can help you deliver quality work (on time). This leads to happy customers who stick around.
Project management can be your secret weapon to outshine your competitors.
Picture this: you implement a project management system to streamline how your products or services get in the hands of your customers faster. As a result, you can handle more orders and have customers who rave about your business.
Netflix invented a whole new market by doing exactly that.
Managing expenses is the heartbeat of small businesses. Lose track, and you can get into deep water fast.
Project management is about more than just keeping things organized. It's a strategic tool that can help you keep project costs in check.
For example, Tristy Construction Company starts with architectural drawings, which are then translated into detailed project plans (and timelines) for a high-rise building. The project manager then uses those to accurately estimate the project's cost (and create a budget). With that in hand, the project manager can easily track costs. If there are hiccups (risks that turn into issues) along the way, the project manager can assess the impact on cost and adjust accordingly.
Deliver high-quality work without breaking the bank. Yes, please!
In the center of the project management triple constraint (cost, scope, and time, a.k.a. the project management iron triangle) is quality.
Quality control should be a part of your project management life cycle. This isn't only important to ensure the quality of your products or services but may be necessary to comply with legal and regulatory rules.
Quality assurance (QA) also goes hand-in-hand with the Kaizen concept of continuous improvement, which is essential to growing your business and keeping your customers delighted.
For instance, a mobile app project might have several quality assurance checks to ensure that all the features are working as defined. Not only does this ensure that the mobile app does not go live if it doesn’t work as desired, but it’s a learning experience baked into the process for the next project.
Risk management is how adults manage projects (or so goes the adage).
Risks for small businesses can take on all kinds of shapes (and impact your business to varying degrees).
With a comprehensive risk management strategy, you'll identify potential risks and analyze and map out responses to risks based on their probability of happening and their impact on the project.
For example, in construction, the risk of going over budget is always high. A perennial risk to almost all projects. To mitigate this, a project manager sets aside 20% of the total budget as a buffer to allow the project to run even if it overruns the budget.
Tips for effective project management
Project management is no walk in the park, but here are a few tips to help you with your project management processes.
Teams deliver projects, and you must help the entire team collaborate from the planning phase through execution.
A few things that'll kill collaboration faster than you can blink your eyes at are:
- A lack of transparency on project progress.
- Silos between project stakeholders, subject-matter experts and the development team.
- Poor communication.
You have to set the stage for effective collaboration by clarifying roles and responsibilities, setting up (and using) preferred communication channels, and, well, communicating (often).
The Agile methodology, an iterative way of delivering projects, is set up to do just that. It'll help you and the entire project team respond to customer feedback quickly and make changes on the go.
Visualize the work
Online project management software can automate many manual tasks and processes, like task assignments, tracking progress, and reporting on project deliverables.
You can then use that saved time for more important work, like managing risks and fostering collaboration (wink, wink).
Just make sure the project management app you run with includes task and time management functionality and is intuitive to use.
Elevate your business with good project management
Project management can take your business to the next level, but it takes work.
Check out Motion, an AI project management tool that can do the heavy lifting and help you execute the project management plan, including project scheduling, collaboration, and productivity.
Motion's project manager tool can help you break down work into small, individual tasks (with recommended timelines) and add those tasks to individual calendars.