Why Small Businesses Need Project Management

Project Management
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Project Management can be as complicated or as simple as someone wants to make it. It is a science (often classified under the category of information technology) that is often practiced by novices, as well as professionals who specialize in the science.

What is Project Management?

PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) defines project management as “temporary endeavor designed to produce a unique product, service or result” (PMI.org). PMI (Project Management Institute), the producer of the PMBOK, is considered the authority on project management.

If we break down the definition of project management, we realize that it does apply to products or services that we may offer our client. This includes the products or services that we offer online. Before we proceed, we need to understand the definitions of projects, so that we do not give in to the temptation to apply project management to everything within the business.

What Project Management is Not

Project management applies to the process of producing that unique product (or service). We will use the act of emailing as an example. Within that process, there may be a communication aspect that includes emailing the client. That task of emailing the client is a task within the project management for that client project.

However, the process of checking email, during a daily routine, is not a project. That is a routine task and fits under “business process,” rather than project management. Many novice project managers have confused this and thought that because it is the same task (i.e., checking/composing email), that it is considered a project.

An easy way to differentiate would be to realize that not all tasks are projects but projects are composed of tasks.

Why Do I Need Project Management in My Online Business?

Now that we have the loose definitions of project management out of the way, we may be wondering why that matters to us, as online business people.

The truth is, it may not matter. However, if we are interested in our bottom line and increasing our ROI (return on investment) for staff hours and other resources, we are likely to benefit from project management. Basically, if the profit margin matters, it is a good idea to at least consider the implementation of project management.

Three of the Project Management Constraints

Project management, when done correctly, can help to streamline the process, saving time, leveraging resources, maximizing profit, and meeting the client’s needs (or business’s needs). There are several constraints that are balanced within project management, but three of the key constraints are: 1) schedule; 2) cost; 3) scope.

By managing the time factor (schedule), we can ensure that we are spending the least amount of time on a project. That does not mean that we sacrifice quality, it means that we are efficient in our time usage and minimize the wasted time. By tracking our project through project management processes, we can identify who is handling what task so that we do not accidentally have two people doing the same thing and wasting time.

By managing the cost factor, we can track what the client is paying and ensure that our ROI is intact. This is especially helpful if we are contracting third-party services and ensuring that we are not paying more for those services than what we are receiving from the client. Without this management, our profit margin could be negatively impacted.

By managing the client’s needs (scope), we can ensure that we are meeting those needs. While it is nice to exceed those needs and wants, we do not want to spend time and energy doing something that the client does not want, or that ROI is going to decrease, as well as our profit margin.

Even if you do not service clients (i.e., develop products, instead), project management processes can assist you in increasing that profit margin (or keeping the product cost down) so that you can maximize your earnings.

How Do I Implement Project Management?

If you are able to hire a project manager or even a project management consultant, that is a good first step. The consultant will be able to get you set up in project management that fits your company and then teach you how to maintain it.

There are also online programs that can help, like Teamwork.com and Mavenlink.com.

If hiring a consultant is not in your budget, you can also search for project management information and books on amazon.com. Project management, as a science, can get really complicated. You do not need to have it be that complicated in order to make improvements. It is fine if your approach is to “keep it simple.” This would especially be the case for online businesses.

If project management is your new “thing,” you may want to take a trip over to PMI.org. Otherwise, a search for something like “Project Management for Dummies” and using a free online resource like Trello.com may be a great step in the right direction.

Conclusion

Project management is an essential part of the process in many different business scenarios. It is important to understand why it is so important and it is also important to make sure that you have the appropriate resources in place to manage the project appropriately throughout its lifetime. That way, you can ensure that the project will be successful and that you can elevate your business to the next level at the appropriate time.

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Deborah comes from a corporate background, as a Chief Technology Officer and operational management, and combines that with her entrepreneurial spirit and her success as a writer and Los Angeles Jazz singer. Her educational background is in software architecture and project management. She teaches professionally, including teaching companies how to use Twitter Chats to enhance their social media campaigns.

With her SocialWebCafe.com, she is continually navigating the newer realm of Google+ Hangouts to iron out the glitches and present a platform that is workable for most businesses, as well as personal use.

You can connect with her on Google+ and follow her at @SocialWebCafe.

3 Responses

  1. Jerry Nordstrom says:

    Via LinkedIn Groups
    Group: Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Network – #1 Group for CMOs
    Discussion: How Do You Manage Your Projects?

    Project management is an important aspect to on-boarding clients for our company. Clearly cloud based PM tools are very popular as they are full featured, extensible and affordable. Basecamp is the service we prefer. However, many larger companies need more robust features such as gantt charts, connections to ERP, AP, and a better handle on security thus the in in-house MS Project Management app is more appropriate.

    In my view, ease of use is the make or break feature of any PM app. Since the PM tool will touch a wide variety of contributors/resources you will inevitably need to ensure the system does not present even the smallest technical, terminology or process hurdles. When I review and implement such systems I would rather error on simplicity and get 80% of the features I need, than to implement RATs (random acts of technology) and have the entire team fall down trying to use it.
    By Jerry Nordstrom

  2. Andrew McDermott says:

    Via LinkedIn Groups
    Group: CT Small Business Toolkit
    Discussion: How Do You Manage Your Projects?

    We use a combination of web based apps to manage our projects and it works pretty well.
    By Andrew McDermott

  3. Adam teagan says:

    Great piece of information! No doubt, project management helps small business in every aspect of business cycle in producing a certain product or service. But now a days the market is moving more towards technology which means that looking for a software or tools that helps in project management keeping the team together and aligned. I know a software that might be added in this peice of information Collabcave which is an online project management tool which is very easy to use and gives us genuine results. Collabcave has some common features that a PM system has, for example, one can have discussions, share files, assign and work on tasks, review work in progress, track that is working on what, watch deadlines and satisfy other project needs as well.