Project Management for Small Business

pmlifecycleWhat is a project? Building an aircraft carrier would certainly be a project. For that you would need a team of highly qualified people and sophisticated management software. That kind of project is beyond the scope of a small organization.

Our type of project could be building a website, participating in a tradeshow, running a conference, and so on.

In this post we will look at how a small organization could manage such projects.

Project Definition
A project has two main characteristics

1. It is not a routine activity of your organization
2. It has a definite start and end time

Project Management
Managing the project basically involves getting the project done on time and within the budget allocated for it.

In a small organization you may be both the manager and the implementer of the project. Given all the routine day to day activities requiring your attention, you certainly still need help staying on top of your project.

More often than not, there will be other people involved. Then communications become an important additional activity you will need.

The Process
Big or small, projects start by identifying the tasks that will make up the project. This requires a bit of brainstorming and possibly lots of sticky notes. The end result is the work breakdown structure.

Then you need to estimate the duration and cost of each task on your list. Then the tasks need to be transcribed onto a calendar of some kind to remind you when they need to be done. This project focus tool describes a practical approach (from Lumia Conversations).

If you are working with others, like planning a conference for example, then the team members need to be informed of the tasks allocated to them.

The Tools
For the size of project we are discussing, you could certainly could get by with pen and paper, and good pocket calendar.

However, I recommend tools that most small organizations already own and are familiar with: Microsoft Outlook and OneNote. With these tools you can schedule tasks, communicate project progress, keep notes of meetings and payments and more.

If you find you have a more complex project, then you could consider a project management plug-in for Outlook, or even an online project management service (project management software).

Summary
A project is different from our routine tasks and as such, needs a different approach. However, with the software that most small organizations already have and are familiar with, it is possible to integrate your project tasks with your normal workflow.

If you would like to learn more about project management concepts, the eBook Project Management Lite is a good place to start.