Let’s face it, project management is a difficult process. It requires careful planning, scheduling, efficient teamwork, realistic cost simulations and sometimes heaps of overtime. After all, that’s why CEOs have those mind-numbing salaries and hefty bonuses while many of us are still dreaming. But what makes some CEOs better than others? Is it hard work or a stroke of luck? What’s more, how can you become a better manager for your own small business and how can you make the same decisions that those top CEOs make?
Let’s see what the top project management professionals have to say about these questions and what are the best project management tips that you can implement in your own small business:
Be a Careful Planner and Get Involved Right from the Beginning
Top project managers get involved in every new project right from the start, as Diane C. Buckley-Altwies (CEO at Core Performance Concepts) points out. Your first job is to determine the desired outcome of the project, the main details that need to be implemented, and a rough estimation of cost. While working together with department managers in the company, you can outline the basic procedures, requirements and objectives that need to be included. Whenever issues arise, the project manager can get back to those objectives and, together with the managers involved, can solve any problem. For larger projects, it is a good idea to get every major stakeholder in the company involved, or at least let them know the general outline of the new project. Similarly, some managers that work on large projects may hold multiple meetings where every member is invited, from junior employees to CIOs and CFOs. This helps the communication process and guarantees that every member knows the main ideas behind the project.
Set Priorities and Have a Clear Scope
The second most important thing to do as a project manager is to establish a firm, clear scope. Get the main priorities clearly stated and make sure that every member knows them. This step is particularly important as it guarantees a clear scope from the start of the project to its final stage. If you overlook this step, there is an increased chance of “crowding” the project with minor changes which, in time, can accumulate, bogging down the whole project. This “crowding” effect is known in the project management world as “scope creep” and, according to Bill Gaffney from Applied Robotics, can easily derail the entire project. A good way to avoid the “scope creep” effect is to evaluate the impact and the potential risks that may be caused by a given change before implementing it. This must be done for every change, regardless of size or importance.
Being realistic is critical in the project management world. Hernan Clarke, CEO at 4Sight Technologies, says that a good project manager sets realistic deadlines and completion dates and sticks to them. It is important to set meaningful expectations, create a realistic cost estimation and allocate resources efficiently. Make sure that every team member understands his or her role, responsibilities and obligations.
Make Sure Everyone Communicates with Each other
Try to develop a communications plan that includes every team member. Make sure that every department can easily communicate on every possible issue. This greatly reduces potential delays, errors and will increase the efficiency of your team. Professional software solutions like those found at http://www.scoro.com/ can help organize and facilitate communication between all parties, and can do the same for the involved tasks and processes.
FlaviuMircea is a freelance writer and blogger who contributes articles and advice on issues affecting the business world at large, as well as the specific challenges faced by the small-to-medium business operator.