Tag Archives: project management

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.

OneNote Eureka

FrustratedFinally the penny dropped, OneNote is not a note taking program! Thinking note taking is misleading and has prevented many from considering OneNote. It is just a program for students after all…?

In this post I will present a model for understanding what OneNote really is—a powerful, essential tool for today’s organizations.

The Penny
I have been researching tools for project management for small businesses and have been looking at OneNote. I read blogs, took online courses, considered case studies and whitepapers but I was getting nowhere—my mind was stuck on note taking!

The Real OneNote Model
Imagine that you are at an important meeting and you need a specific document. No problem, you have your filing cabinet mounted on wheels and you have lugged it with you to the meeting.

So you lean back, open the second drawer, slide your finger to the fifth file hanger, and pull out the file folder and take out the needed document. Handy, huh?!

Well, OneNote is your mobile filing cabinet! The Cloud are the wheels.

That’s right. Each “notebook” is a drawer in the cabinet, the “sections” are file hangers, the “pages” are the file folders. You can put anything in the file folder: documents, scanned receipts, emails, etc.

So you don’t need a filing cabinet on wheels, your smartphone or tablet will do.

Finally
Back to my project management tools for small business quest. No, OneNote is not the tool – it is a filing cabinet remember, filing cabinets don’t do project management. Outlook is the tool for task management, Word creates your reports, Excel tracks the expenses. OneNote is where you file the information.

Got a brainwave for that new job? Jot it on a yellow sticky and stick it to the file folder—no need, OneNote can do that too.