How to Improve Project Management in Your Small Business
As a small business owner, you have tons of opportunities to explore and a hundred different workflows to build from scratch. You wear many hats, from the marketer to the accountant to the salesperson and the CEO. However, project management is the most important of all the skills required to run a small business effectively.
With the right framework for managing different processes in your business, you can save a good deal of time, money, and effort. More importantly, a good project management setup can help you deliver quality services, reduce overhead costs, streamline your workflows, and build stronger customer relationships.
So, if you’re looking to build or improve project management for your small business, here’s how you can go about it.
1. Identify weak points and outline objectives
For starters, find out your weaknesses as a business and make a project management plan to overcome them.
The process of building a bulletproof project management strategy for any business starts with identifying what's wrong. Your current set of processes might work fine. But as you scale your small business, they might become ineffective.
So, carefully study your business and make a note of exactly where you're lacking. Your weaknesses will ultimately become the goals of your project management strategy.
Here are some questions to help you identify the flaws in your business setup:
- What are some bottlenecks in your workflow?
- What is the most common reason for customer dissatisfaction?
- What is causing discontent in your team?
- Which steps are too lengthy and mechanical?
- Which things are taking up too much money?
By answering some of these questions, you'll re-evaluate a large chunk of your business operations.
This simple exercise will help you answer what your project aims to achieve, thus giving you direction to improve your project management efforts.
2. Create a schedule and budget for different workflows
Once you’ve identified your weaknesses, the next step is to designate a schedule and budget for these projects. So, while you already have the direction to move forward, you should now think of how you will advance.
Here are some key steps to create your budget:
- Determine your revenue – know your monthly income by accounting for all sources of income
- Know your fixed costs – we’re talking about the rent, utilities, payroll, taxes, etc.
- Know your variable expenses – Some utilities, office equipment and supplies, trainings, etc.
- Be ready for unexpected costs – Always have some spare budget for unexpected expenses
- Tally your total income & total outcome
3. Establish timeframes and set milestones
When you know what you want and how to accomplish it, start drawing the milestones for your projects. Knowing what to do may not be enough to keep the project on track. You need to be accountable for them and that’s where creating an action plan helps.
Setting up different targets and specific timeframes for each target will help assess where you are headed. It will also simplify the task of measuring the outcome of your project management strategies.
For every project, establish timelines to share the workload and give each individual contributor the opportunity to contribute.
Besides, these timelines will also make it easy for you to track how ahead or behind you are from the schedule.
4. Use the right tool to collaborate with the team
Project management has become an indispensable part of running a business—big and small alike. Irrespective of the industry you operate in, a project management tool presents a reliable solution for end-to-end requirements.
Catering to this extensive need for planning and management, many project management tools have come up in the market.
A typical project management tool allows you to maintain endless data streams in creative visualizations to keep your team on the same page, analyze and adjust your information, and a lot more.
Perform thorough research to choose a business tool best suited for your needs. Here are some popular project management tools you can explore:
5. Cultivate accountability with clearly defined responsibilities
One of the most common challenges in a small business setup is the lack of accountability.
A good project management plan can help you bring greater clarity to your team with well-defined responsibilities for every individual. When every member is on the same page, there are fewer margins for error, and greater motivation in the team. Besides, coordination and teamwork become easy.
For businesses growing rapidly, establishing accountability is the most crucial part of project management. Here’s how you can do it:
- Define your company culture and maintain accountability as one of the core pillars. Unless the factor is deep-rooted within the company, you cannot expect employees to follow it.
- Lead by example—empower stakeholders and decision-makers to be accountable evidently so others can observe and follow the same.
- Communicate roles and responsibilities very clearly within the organization and independent teams to avoid any grey area.
- Provide regular training and resources with blogs, courses and webinars to empower employees to work on themselves consistently.
- Reward employees with good performance and regularly track the progress of others to devise strategies accordingly.
6. Track progress consistently to make improvements
Simply creating a project management framework is not enough. You have to review it in action and evaluate the results consistently.
Monitoring these results will help you figure out what’s working and what’s not—which can be done through a collaboration tool but will require some overall management and supervision. For this, it’s best to appoint a project manager for each team to track progress and make improvements.
But the tricky part of measuring the success of a project management strategy is—it does not necessarily depend on tangible results. Assess the success of your framework by factoring in:
- the inefficiency
- the reduction in manual work
- the delays in meeting deadlines
- and similar parameters.
With one hand closing a new deal and the other signing an invoice, small business owners are known to be ace multi-taskers. But effective project management can allow them to focus their skills in essential places only.
Project management and planning go a long way in helping small business teams collaborate on the right fronts with the right resources.
These project management tips can significantly empower your small business to stay a step ahead of the plan, meet all timelines, build greater teamwork, and streamline multiple workflows.
Adela Belin is a content marketer and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people's lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth. Find her onTwitter andLinkedIn.