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Ultimate Guide On Project Management For Small Businesses

Whether you are already working on your project management or new to this for your small business, there is a lot to unpack here. 

It takes plenty of years to really excel in the project management arena of the business, especially when you are doing it in-house. 

Within the budget, it can be more challenging. However, with the help of the right information, strategies and tools, you can optimize your project management strategy. 

It can be either for your small business, freelance work, or any other form of entrepreneurship as well. 

Project management comes with only one goal- that is to accomplish the specific goals in given time. 

Image Source: Kissflow 

If that’s something you have been struggling with, then you do need the project management right in the place to bring better results. 

Remember, everything regarding project management is practical, hands-on, and pretty action-based knowledge.

So you can always draw your own parallels within given strategies anad available resources with it. 

Before you get more confused, let’s get to what is project management methodology, how do you find the right one and much more. 

How To Choose The Right Project Management Methodology 

Project management is not about right or wrong but the specific needs you have. It starts from understanding what specific requirements you have.  

Choosing the right project management methodology is about recognizing what your company needs to derive the results. 

You need to look for questions like : 

  • What are your specific goals? 
  • How is your business structured? 
  • What are your expectations from your final deliverables? 
  • What is the size of your company? 
  • Do your clients or customers prefer a specific methodology? 
  • How much complexity does your project hold? 

What is Project Management Methodology? 

A project management methodology (PMM) is a set of practices, methods, and techniques that are used by companies to manage the project effectively. 

These methodologies boost the chances of your project meeting its intended goals. 

There are certainly different methodologies you can choose from depending upon your goals. 

What you need to consider before selecting a particular project management methodology : 

  • You need to develop a process for assessing each available methodology to choose from looking at whether it fits your requirement or not.
  •  There are different internal and external factors that can affect the methodology you need to choose. 

What Factors Affecting The Selection Process For Methodology?

Image Source: Project Central 

There are various factors that affect the selecting process for project management methodology. 

To make your decision, it is important you ask the following questions  : 

  • What is the structure of your company? 
  • What are the objectives of your company? 
  • How complex is your project? 
  • Do technologies, internal infrastructure, procedures, and technologies support the particular project management methodology? 
  • What is the size of your project? 
  • How much cost is required for your project? 
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of your business? 
  • Who are your primary customers? 
  • What are the opportunities and threats in your business?

The key factor in the selection of the right project management method is finding the right type of project or process that you need to manage. 

Here are the following factors that affect your choosing process for the methodology : 

  • Customer involvement 
  • Project focus/ Specialization 
  • Allotted budget
  • Specialization of roles  
  • Scalability of project 
  • Setting up starting and ending dates 
  • The complexity of the projects 
  • Flexibility in timeline
  • Industry 
  • Resistance to change 

The Benefits Of Project Management For Your Business 

Avoid Overwhelming 

According to a survey conducted on more than 2,000 U.S employees,  60% of respondents said that they feel stressed about their work for more than 3 days per week.

And apparently one of the most dominating causes is a frazzled feeling where there is just too much work to do. 

Project Management gives you an accurate timeline and step-by-step work procedure to help you complete a lot of work in a given time. 

It helps manage the capacity of the people and provide reasonable workloads at a time and proceed without exhaustion. 

There is a strategy that works behind the efficient and smooth working of the tasks and eventually the project.  

Boosts Collaboration Levels 

 Collaboration is an essential factor for the fruition or success of a project. 

One of the common reasons for the failure of projects is lack of collaboration or low level of collaboration. 

In simple words, team members or people just don’t know what they are responsible for in the project. 

They also don’t comprehend their roles and how much they can or cannot depend on their team members. What they can expect from others.

Then, there are all the confusions, latency and miscommunication to hurdle the project.

Project Management includes a detailed laid-out plan including every particular specific role and tasks to complete on a particular deadline.

Every team member knows what they are expected to do and what they can expect from their team members.

 They communicate and collaborate together to complete the project with individual responsibilities. 

Increase Alignment 

Larger or smaller, the goals of the project might seem to be very clear but it is not, especially when there is an organization or team involved. 

Every unsaid word can be a doubt for the team members regarding the project. If goals are not precisely clear, then the priorities and strategies are also going to be misrouted. 

In fact, it is one of the most common factors for the failures or underwhelming results of the project. 

It is when everyone is not giving their 100% or working in the right direction. 

Project management helps aligning the objective of the project for the team members. It brings everyone on the same page of clarity, focus and same priorities. 

Step-by Step Process On How To Pick A Project Management Software 

how to pick right project management software

Step 1 : Research On The Collaboration & Communication Features 

The very first question you need to ask yourself is “ Is this tool going to help your project manager and team members to work together efficiently? “

You need to remember that getting a project management tool, app or software is not a personal decision. 

It is for the whole team to use for communication and collaboration for the project. So it is very important you set your priorities straight for choosing the right tool.

Make sure the project management software or tool is equipped with high-end and versatile communication features. 

Image Source: GanttPRO blog

Pick something that fits the way your team communicates and make things work. It should be relevant and align with the current communication strategies at the play. 

You can also involve your team members to help you make the decision. 

You can experiment with different types or levels of project management tools with them and see what works for them.

There are just multiple factors working here like size of your team, scale of your projects, nature of the project collaborations, communication style etc. 

However, the idea is to make your communication easier, faster and simpler, and more importantly transparent. So choose the tool accordingly.   

Step 2 :  Calculating And Justifying The Tool Cost 

One of the most important and concerned questions arises with investment of the project management tool – 

Are the productivity benefits of the tool more than the time, money and efforts spent on it?

When you see for a short-term, introducing a new project management tool in the workflow is going to need a lot of adjustments, adaptations, time and money as well.

However, what you must look for is whether or not it is the right solution for growing your projects exponentially or not.

You need to see it working on the long-term basis and making the system pay itself for the software cost.

The idea is to find the balance of what you are investing and what you’re getting from the project management tool in terms of time, money and value. 

Step 3 : Try More And More Alternatives 

A lot of project managers and businesses feel skeptical about buying a project management software company that won’t let them use the full software for a trial period. 

Choosing the right project management tool is quite like finding apartments. 

You always feel like hopping on the first great place you see but find the flaws as soon as you move in. 

Image Source: nTask

So, first of all, it is better if you tread slowly and don’t get overexcited with the plethora of features demonstrated on the product pages. 

For starting, focus on just trying everything you can. Just go for the samples before you pay anything. 

Try working in the software with your team and see how practically it is adding value to your system.

Avoid making the decision to buy the right one, instead just try more and more alternatives available in the market that are relevant to your business. 

Then, you can compare everything at one place with the relevance of your business and experience of the trial period. 

Step 4 : Defining Your Project Management Tool Needs 

Well, this could be the first! But just to not make it very obvious but more important to focus on, it is listed to do as a step four. 

With testing and trying other alternatives, considering the cost and doing the research, you also need to look for your own requirements. 

Your own requirements for the project management tool will help you guide buying the right tool for you. 

Let your requirements, the specific ones, be the factor for choosing the right project management tool as it will make more sense. 

Write down the list of problems you wind up with project management such as  : 

  • Lack of a one platform to connect all departments 
  • Lack of communication 
  • Too many email inboxes to handle 
  • Organizing team meetings is tricky 
  • There is no way to track the project progress
  • Missing deadlines 
  • Uneven workload on team members 
  • Confusion regarding work within team members

And so on, 

Your business might have only a few of them or some and even all as well. So while doing all other steps, filter your choices with the requirements you ahve. 

Your tool must have a solution to your existing problem otherwise it would be just a waste of money. 

Step 5 : Testing The Tool 

It is no brainer that before buying into such an investment, you always do testing. 

But here it becomes more important, as you aren’t just buying but adapting a system to your business workforce. 

So, testing the tool isn’t just to see whether it is worth the investment but also how well it is for your type of business, how  your team responds to it and other factors. 

Most of the project managmeet tools offer free trial, so you can literally check all of them available. 

Even if there isn’t a free trial, you can always contact them and ask for a trial, they would be happy to provide. 

Image Source: Aurigo

What you can do is get a small team from your business, can be decision makers or even good employees along with a project manager. 

Provide them the tool and allow them to test it out from their own working methods. 

See how different skill sets, work culture, communication and various functions of your business get acclimated with this new tool. 

You can even have a pilot project to work on, as a test.  

Make sure you also check and test their customer service and see how they are quick and capable of resolving issues. 

Get the feedback from your team, employees, project manageer and other members as well. 

See what this tool brings to the table. Make sure you can find out : 

  • Whether it makes the project management more efficient? 
  • Do it affect the workflow of your business in a good way?
  • Is it effective in task management and time management? 
  • How well can your team communicate and collaborate on this platform? 
  • Is it easy to undersand and use?
  • Does this make the work more fun and engaging? 

Just take all the positives and negatives about the tool. Analyze the negative and see what can be done about it, and whether it is relevant to the big picture or not. 

Pro Tips For Project Management 

Identifying The Requirements Of Your Project 

This is one of the earliest stages of project planning where it is essential to identify the project requirements. 

It is a critical step in order to make your project successful. 

Identifying project requirements helps you allocate and secure the project resources that are important for successful project management. 

This also makes the next essential step effective and efficient that is developing and implementing the plan. 

When you identify the project requirements, you can start assimilating the resources that are significant for the success of the project. 

Hiring the Right Project Manager And Team For Your Project 

The best way to ensure efficient project management in the team and in your organization is by hiring the right project manager. 

The project manager needs to know how to deal with different levels of professionals in the organization apart from knowing their work too. 

Finding the right project manager might take some time but is certainly worth the effort. 

Also, any successful project management depends not just on the project manager but on the entire team. 

So focus on bringing the productive and efficient team members who are balanced and in sync with each other and their manager.

Start With And End In Your Mind 

Every project has a starting and ending point making the objectives and initiations more obvious to the results. 

But it is observed as a retrospect. However, envisioning the end of the project or the result of the project helps you focus on the right direction more accurately. 

It is about understanding your finish line and finding the arc to move along on the dotted lines of success. 

This assures a distraction-free route for the projects to be fulfilled on its visioned destinations. 

It definitely makes you and your team members remain focussed on what exactly they want and what they have to do for it. 

Understanding The Strengths and Weaknesses Of Your Team 

According to experts, it is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your professionals in the organization. 

It allows you to bring the best out of the team and optimize productivity towards greater efficiency. 

In fact, you also need to know who in the team requires the least supervision and who needs the most. 

Good project managers understand how multitasking can be the big productivity killer. 

It is important to identify the right employee for the task on the basis of their specialization. 

Understanding Your Goal 

Managing a project along with your team members requires a strong grip on your objectives and goals. 

It is essential that you understand the mission with every single detail and all different aspects of it. 

This is also because there will be exceptional situations in this journey that require thorough understanding of the dynamics of the project.  

There will be situations in your way that will be ready to influence the direction of your project. 

You need to be thinking on your feet to act on bringing things back to the tracks. 

The decision you need to take in your way requires you to be foundationally strong regarding the project. 

Assign a priority order for the tasks along with guidelines 

The best way to minimize or reduce the conflicts is to assign priority orders and task guidelines. 

The project manager needs to guide the team regarding the tasks and there must be some tasks only to be worked upon after the delivery of the pre-requisite. 

It is important to communicate the management of the time in the most efficient and productive way towards your time. 

The project manager also needs to keep track of the tasks on the basis of priority orders.

Avoid Perfectionism 

It is natural to strive for perfectionism in your projects when you are managing the project or task. 

However, perfectionism often comes with numerous unforeseen circumstances and negative influence on your project. 

The notion of bringing perfectionism to the projects can be overwhelming, distracting and make you procrastinate as well. 

It is better to just forget about perfectionism and focus more on simply meeting the required goals for the project. 

If you get your project completed with all fulfilled tasks and meeting the expectation of your stakeholders, it should be considered as a success. 

Getting into every tiny detail of your project and obsessed with the notion of perfection will not just kill productivity but also hamper the spirit of the work. 

Communication Is Indeed The Key

Collaboration and communication are two most important parts of project management and eventually the success of the project. 

In between them, communication is indeed the key to efficient team and high productivity. 

It is evidently important to run the project smoothly. You also need to maintain communication with stakeholders, clients and team members or project managers. 

The aim here is to keep the communication lines always open and easy that anyone can reach to anyone in the team for quick interaction. 

It is also the communication issue to promote talking and interacting in the team without any hesitation. 

Ineffective communication is one of the prime reasons for the failure of the projects. v

Tracking the Projects And Team Status 

The project manager needs to be vigilant and aware of what’s going on in the team.  

Tracking should be a consistent routine or practice to monitor the projects at the resource level. 

It is important to adopt technology in project management. The project manager needs to optimize the productivity of the team. 

The project manager also needs to provide regular one-on-one communication in the team. 

Managing Your Time Effectively 

Time management is an integral part of project management. 

You need to manage your time effectively in order to complete your project successfully and efficiently. 

First, focus on having a well-defined detailed project plan as it makes time management more easy. 

You will know what specific tasks and goals you need to achieve by what particular time. So now you can aim for meeting the requirements. 

Without plan and time management, you will end up spending more time on every project or even end up missing a lot of work.

Create a thorough time-based detailed roadmap of your project to assure the completion of the tasks and project on given time only. 

Communication with your team members and stakeholders also helps in time management. 

Managing The Risks

One of the most crucial aspects of project management is risk management. Equip yourself enough to be able to identify the potential risks coming the way of your project. 

You need to have a risk response strategy, a very detailed laid out plan for every risk possible for your project.

There must be a set of things to do or steps to implement when things are not going in your way or according to the plan.

You also need to be brave, creative and out-of-box to bring solutions to counter these risks if or when arises.   

Avoid Multitasking 

Multi-tasking may seem a unique skill to brag about but it is not, especially in this case.

It is about doing several things at a time or fraction of time. Surely seems fancy but sadly it is not very practical or effective. 

A human brain isn’t wired to handle more than one or at most two complex tasks at one time. 

According to the research conducted by American Psychological Association, switching between tasks causes upto 40 per cent loss in productivity. 

It also makes you lose focus and attention and decrease the overall productivity as well. 

In fact, there are many strategies and tricks to avoid multi-tasking and complete your tasks as efficiently as possible. 

Make Sure Your Familiaze Yourself With Project Management Terms 

Project management can be sophisticated and complex when the professionals use its own language and key terms. 

Especially with involvement of more project management tools and strategies, it is better to get familiarized with at least the key terms. 

Save yourself from embarrassment of not knowing and risks of lack of communication is too much to handle. 

In fact, since you are learning about project management, you might have already come across some unknown terms popping every once a while. 

Here are some key terms that you should remember, often used in early glossary of project management. 

Dependencies 

Dependencies are the particular elements of a project that are connected together, more inter-dependent. 

It means one cannot happen or be completed without the other being done. There are different types of dependencies as well. 

You often come across task dependencies where one task can be only fulfilld when another is done, or simply in the sequence to be completed. 

Then, there are some resource dependencies as well where resources are tied together. 

Critical Path 

Critical path is the longest path you can take to complete product activities. 

So, it means if any more delays happen on the critical path, the risk of the whole project getting behind the schedule is arisen. 

The project activities in the critical path are dependent on each other. 

Milestone

Milestones are the different success points or progress deadlines that you get in the way towards your primary project competition. 

Organize Weekly Meetings 

Project managers need to set up short and regular weekly meetings. 

These regular meetings will allow team members to have some time to share about what they have worked on last week.

They can also share about what they are looking forward to next week or what they are planning. 

These weekly team meetings can help the members resolve their problems they are facing with their project as well. 

It also promotes the bonding and team work between the employees as well improving the productivity and efficiency of the project. 

More than that, team meetings make the members accountable and develop a sense of urgency to continue making progress every week. 

Keep Changing Things As You Proceed 

Managing the changes happening in the project or the progress on the way is essential to assure the timely success of the projects. 

You need to keep analyzing what kind of impact the changes are bringing to the table. 

It is also necessary to assess these changes and their impact on the project on the basis of time, cost and efficiency. 

The changes might seem very small or minor but continuously adapting and implementing it can add up to something really substantial. 

Don’t Fall In For Out-Of-Scope Requests 

One of the primary reasons for projects to be getting out of control is the giving in to the out-of-scope request from the clients. 

It is still important to spend a good amount of time laying groundwork and defining the scope clearly to keep your projects on track. 

But that doesn’t mean you need to listen to all the out-of-scope demands or requests. 

Be clear and confident in sharing that you are more keen to add these requests on the phase 2 of the project with its own scope and budget. 

Set Specific Goals For Every Particular Team Member 

It is important to create milestones for your project in the planning stage only. The milestones help you keep track of your progress and theirs as well. 

Completing the milestone also gives a sense of accomplishment and further momentum to continue the good work. 

Make sure you give a specific set of goals for the milestone for every particular team member. 

But more than that, do celebrate the success of these milestones and your team members. 

It is also important to bring everyone together every once in a while and best at these success milestones and have fun. 

It keeps them excited about the future of the project and makes them more enthusiastic about it. 

However, for team members working virtually, this can be different. It can be simply sending a congratulatory email or best get together on video calls for casual chat. 

Make Sure To Use A Project Management Software 

Experts despise the fact that many businesses consider emails as a project management tool to fulfil the project. 

It is not very far from the efficiency, features and capability of a good project management tool. 

Without any project management software or tool, it becomes extremely difficult to function and facilitate project management efficiently amongst the team. 

There are always different types of project management tools with different sophistication or complication levels to suit your needs. 

It is safe to assume that there is a perfect project management tool for every particular type of project or business. 

How To Streamline Project Management? 

Projects are supposed to be completed in a very detailed manner. And that’s what you tend to miss when you have a ticking clock over you. 

That’s why streamline project management is what you need to do. It is a way to harness the order in all the chaos of multiple tasks, subtasks and procedures to follow in. 

Here are 12 steps to streamline project management : 

Different Ways To Streamline Your Project

ways streamline your project

Understanding The Project 

One of the very ways to streamline your project is apprehending the project from its all aspects. 

You can begin from searching and gathering informatio about the requirements and expectations of your clients and stakeholders. 

Once you really understand the expectations set from the project, it becomes clear to set more dedicated and focussed goals. 

You also need to track the progress of these goals and tasks associated with it at every step. 

Understanding the requirements is more important than you expect. It is integral for the success of the project. 

You would also know what are the skills required to fulfil the tasks, what team to put together in order to facilitate the progress in the most efficient way possible. 

Make sure you never compromise on the quality of the project. 

Identifying And Defining Your Milestone

To really make your project management successful, it is evident that you pay attention to the efficiency and timely execution of the project.

It begins from the very stage of planning where you need to allocate the right project manager for better execution. 

You must divide the project into a different life cycle that includes different stages of the project development. 

There are various processes that need to be included in the project management so you can identify and define the milestone.

You need to determine different requirements and challenges of a particular milestone and assign various roles according to their respective expertise. 

Different milestones will also help you understand the progress rate of your project. So you also will be able to share it with your clients and stakeholders as well. 

Developing Communication To Your Team

Good communication between your team members, clients and stakeholders also help you streamline the project in the best way possible.

Any communication gap or lack of clarity in the decision-making or role assignment can lead to confusion.

The project manager also needs to be concerned with the opinions their team members hold regarding the project and each other as well. 

The success of any project depends upon the communication of their team members as well. 

A project manager should be always accessible to the whole team for any issue they are having or concern they have regarding the project. 

Utlizing Project Management Tools 

Project management software or tools are the integral part of your project management starty. 

They play a significant role in the process of streamlining your projects. 

Project management tools are platforms where team members along with the project manager can interact with others, develop, manage and track the progress of the projects. 

The tool is perfect for putting everyone on the same page. It also allows tracking the assigned work and individual contributions. 

Using project management tools, communication becomes smooth and quick, saving tons of time, money and energy. 

Managing Risks And Project Evaulation 

Once your projects are up and running, there can be potential obstacles that can ruin the consistency or the progress of your projects. 

So there is a need to detect, predict or determine the potential risks involved in your projects, and find multiple solutions to tackle it even before it happens. 

More than that, the focus would be on preventing these potential obstacles and risks. 

The very last and important step in project management is to evaluate and analyze your project progress. 

You need to evaluate on the basis of individual performance, then team performance and leadership evaluation of the project manager as well. 

Reviewing the project helps to understand the potential challenges in it and improve it to make the project management strategy better. 

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