SMEs And Project Management

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You may be mistaken for believing that project management is just for big companies, and that project management training is simply for those that work at big firms. However, this could not be further from the truth. Project management is just as important for small businesses, and it is something they need to get right from the very beginning. Read on to discover everything you need to know.

Using a project management tool

There are many benefits associated with adopting a project management solution in the beginning. This includes the fact that you will find it much easier to collaborate and to manually track the likes of budgets, time and project tasks. Effective project management is imperative for scale and work quality.

A project management solution will ensure that you effectively keep on top of all of the different projects you are working on for different clients. You won’t need to refer to different files and dashboards for each client, which can be exceptionally time-consuming. Instead, with most project management software solutions you will benefit from all of the following in one place: company branding, apps integration, websites built, centralized data storage and document management, standardized processes and workflows, budgeting capabilities, file sharing, collaboration and team communication, as well as user permissions customization, task management, Gantt charts, employee and team time and tracking. These systems are also web-based, meaning they can be used anywhere at any time, and they are scalable to any number of users.

The human side of project management

With such a tool at your disposal, it is not easy to see how projects will become much more efficient and quality will improve. However, having a project management tool in place is not enough. You cannot expect it to do all of the work for you. The human aspect is just as important, if not more so. This is why all small businesses need to consider hiring a project manager. Alternatively, you can train someone in-house to manage all of the projects your company is in charge of. You can easily do a MBA online degree program today, so training in-house is more realistic than ever before.

This is an individual that will be knowledgeable and experienced in the likes of budget setting and management, time management, objective setting, managing client expectations and much more. They will also ensure that team morale and productivity levels are high, and that the right people are working on the right tasks so that resources are efficiently allocated. Combine this with quality software, and your small business will be able to handle any task that is thrown your away, and you will do so quickly and effectively.

Budget management

Budget overruns happen frequently. After all, very few businesses have an unlimited budget, and when project scope creeps in or changes are required, it can result in too much money being spent. This is bad news for any business, as clients and project stakeholders will see a budget overrun as a colossal failure. On the other hand, get it right, and you will have achieved a great success, which will enhance your reputation going forward. With that in mind, let’s take a look at five of the best ways to manage your project budget:

1.   Make sure everyone is in the know and accountable – A key part of staying on budget is making sure all team members know the current budget status. The project budget forecast is something that the project team needs to be informed about. After all, a team that is informed is a team that is empowered. If your team is aware of the budget status, they are going to be more inclined to watch their project charges, and they will charge less for extra ‘grey area’ hours.

2.   Develop relevant KPIs – The next step in managing your project budget effectively is establishing key performance indicators, otherwise known as KPIs. KPIs will help you to determine how much has been spent on a project, as well as how much the actual budget differs from what was initially planned, and much more. Let’s take a look at some KPIs that are commonly used and are vital when it comes to successful budget management in any project:

a.   Return on investment (ROI) – This shows the profitability of a project, as well as whether costs have been exceeded by the benefits.

b.   Planned value (PV) – This is the budgeted cost of work scheduled. Essentially, this is the estimated amount for project activities that have been planned.

c.   Earned value (EV) – This is the budgeted cost of work that has been performed.

d.  Cost variance (CV) – This indicates if the estimated cost of the project is lower or greater than the baseline that has been set.

e.   Actual cost (AC) – This shows how much money you have spent on the project to date. It can also be referred to as actual cost of work performed, i.e. ACWP.

3.   Budget for surprises – Projects very rarely go to plan, and there are often a lot of surprises along the way. You need to build in contingencies if you are to stay on budget. Factor in things that are outside of your control, for example, currency exchanges, financing, resources, and external environmental considerations that could impact the price of supplies.

4.   Understand the true needs and wants of your stakeholders – Last but not least, what stakeholders claim to want and need in a project aren’t always as straightforward as it seems in the beginning. This can lead to expectations and goals that have not been identified on both sides, which causes projects to run over budget. You need to make an effort to understand the true needs and wants of your stakeholders from the off.

Hopefully, you now have a good idea regarding why project management is crucial for small businesses, and why you need to get it right from the very beginning. One way to get started is by taking one of the project management training courses that are available. This will help you to get to grips with the ins and outs of project management and the different techniques and tools that can be used for managing client expectations, budget, time management and all of the other components that determine project success. Alternatively, you can do some research online, as there is an abundance of articles available.