Managing Your Business
Project Management Best Practices for Small Business
Starting a successful small business takes drive, determination, and a structured approach. If you want your new business to grow as quickly as possible, it’s vital to ensure you set up a strong foundation. Implementing a small business project management system is the best way to create a solid infrastructure. The sooner you organize and streamline operations, the quicker your business will be able to grow.
What Is Small Business Project Management?
Small business project management consists of business processes that enable a company to achieve specific goals. Project managers are in charge of defining objectives and determining the resources and steps needed to accomplish them.
Project management techniques can keep your business organized, efficient, focused, and on schedule. These systems and processes are a helpful way to ensure your company runs smoothly and grows quickly.
Project management also outlines a roadmap to reach your business goals. Most small business owners are constantly juggling several different projects at once. These tools are crucial to help you stay on track and focused with each step in the process.
Project Management Processes, Goals, and Deadlines
Before implementing a project management system, you must identify your company goals and related projects. You may already know your company’s initiatives. If you don’t have any in mind, take some time to brainstorm. This may seem like busywork, but this is an essential step to determining company priorities.
Once you’ve pinpointed your company’s goals, you can identify the necessary components of each project. Here are some elements to keep in mind:
Many new business owners fail to identify the scope for projects in their excitement to create and succeed. Scope refers to every task required to complete a project or provide a product or service to customers. By properly defining the scope, you can accurately determine the time and resources needed to finish a project.
A project can be ongoing, such as developing and producing company products, or a one-time goal, like building a company website. You’ll need to create a deadline for the final product in either case. If it’s an ongoing project, the deadline may be daily, weekly, or monthly.
Once you decide on a deadline, you can work backward to develop an overall project timeline with steps and deliverables. For example, if you plan to create your company’s lookbook, you’ll need separate deadlines for the concept, rough draft, and final draft.
It's vital to determine the amount of money required before starting a project. A realistic operating budget helps ensure that steps get completed on time. To run a successful business, you’ll need to operate within budget. Otherwise, you threaten your profitability.
Staffing is one of the most important tasks for project managers. After analyzing the scope of your project, determine how many employees or contractors are required to accomplish your goal. You’ll need to choose the ideal workers for the job to finish on time and within budget.
Industry standards and requirements
Successful project managers are well-versed in the requirements and standards of their industry. Creating products and services according to industry guidelines helps avoid potential costly changes in the production process.
Project Management Tools
Once you’ve assessed the components for your company projects, it’s time to determine what project management tools can help you reach those goals. These tools are designed to help ensure your projects run smoothly. Some apps and programs even automate tasks that would otherwise be time-consuming or prone to human error.
Project management tools can help you with various operational tasks, including organizing data and prioritizing deadlines. You can also monitor team members to stay on top of project progress and enhance productivity.
Google Drive is an example of a powerful project management tool. This versatile workspace suite provides shared team access to spreadsheets and documents, a virtual meeting space, and cloud storage. Here are some other effective project management tools to add to your toolbox:
- MeisterTask allows users to create a project timeline and provides insightful productivity reports over time.
- IdeaDrop transforms brainstorming by helping teams share concepts and ideas.
- Asana enables you to organize tasks and promote smooth collaboration and communication among team members.
- Evernote is a handy desktop and mobile app for taking, organizing, and archiving notes.
- Hive helps you stay on top of multiple tasks and deadlines through an intuitive dashboard.
- GoToMeeting is a longstanding web-hosted service for virtual meetings.
Choosing Project Management Tools
With the dizzying array of project management tools, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. Thankfully, many platforms offer a 30-day free trial so you can see if it's right for you and your business.
To help you decide, choose a platform that promotes the following characteristics:
Team collaboration is essential, especially in a remote or hybrid work environment. By centralizing the collaboration through a project management tool, you help ensure that all steps are completed on time. This also gives everyone a voice in the project and keeps team members invested in the result.
Many companies, employees, and customers are promoting a flexible work environment where they can meet everyone’s unique needs. A good project management tool will include the flexibility to integrate different needs and accomplish goals quickly and efficiently.
Workable price point
As a startup, you’ll likely work on a tight budget at first and choose your tools based on price. Some project management systems are free to use, such as Google Drive. Many also offer a free version with limited features that might suffice until your company grows. When you want to expand to a paid plan, you can often save money by selecting an annual subscription.
Planning and scheduling capabilities
Successful project management requires excellent planning and scheduling by the company leader. The ideal platform should allow you to assign and track tasks easily. Any scheduling should be easy to understand and transparent to all team members.
It’s imperative to have backup documentation safely stored for your company. This allows projects to go smoothly and keeps critical documents on hand for company taxes, business loan applications, and other business requirements.
You’ll also want to see a record of revisions for each document. Google Workspace’s Google Docs achieves this by saving new versions of a document as edits are made.
The best project management platforms provide detailed analytics that track performance over time. With these statistics, you can assess the effectiveness of your projects and evaluate your team’s performance within the platform. This information is important for the continued successful operation of your company. By evaluating your teams’ analytics, you can improve the outcome and timeliness of future projects.
Tips for Effective Project Management
You might want to start your projects as soon as possible, but it’s a good idea to start slow. Initially, choose one project at a time. This will allow you to find pitfalls and determine best practices for future projects.
When working on a project, don’t forget to create a timeline with deadlines. If a project doesn’t have deadlines, it probably won’t get completed on time — or at all. Try to set target dates along the way and double-check that all team members follow deadlines as much as possible.
After you determine a budget for a project, stick to it. If the need arises, you might have to go over budget. However, consistent overspending will only lead to a cash flow problem. To avoid this habit, use a project management tool to track all business expenses.
Transparency is key, so ensure that all team members stay connected and informed. Introduce regular status updates for the team and keep every member on the same page. If your team is remote, it might be helpful to schedule a recurring virtual or in-person meeting at various stages of the project.
Delegate as the Business Grows
It’s a good idea to get a project management system up and running during the early stages of company development. As the owner, you know your business the best and what it requires to expand and succeed. You’ll only have a handful of objectives when you start, so it’s often easy to handle your project management system yourself.
As your business grows, it might become apparent that you need additional help to manage your company’s projects. However, this is good news. If you’re having trouble managing multiple projects, it might indicate that your company is expanding and doing well. The more complex tasks your company requires, the more successful your business has become.
You should step back and begin delegating project management tasks to your team at this stage. You may even need to assign a trusted employee or employees to take over planning and implementing for future projects. To prepare for this stage, identify one or two employees who have the skills for project management and train them in advance. When the time comes for them to take over, they’ll already be ready to jump in.
Do a Post-project Assessment
When you finish a project, it’s always helpful to analyze the analytics and outcome. Check to see if all went as planned, including completing steps on time and staying within budget. Talk to team leaders and team members about how they think the project went. If they have constructive advice, note what they think went well and what they believe could be improved. You can use this information to determine potential adjustments for future projects. Most importantly, take this opportunity to celebrate the success of completing the project. This will keep everyone on the team excited and ready for the next one.
An effective project management system can give your business a solid competitive advantage. By implementing these techniques from the beginning, you're likely to experience steady and successful business growth. For more helpful articles on running a small business, check out Swyft Filing’s Learning Center.