Managing Small Projects

Preject management for small projects
Following on from last week where we discussed ‘Project Management for Small Business’, in this article we look at the differences between large and small projects, and how to manage them.

Time is an extremely valuable resource for every self-employed small business owner, and you do not want to be wasting any of it. Consequently, you want to be able to quickly understand how to identify a project from regular tasks.

Knowing how small projects differ from large ones can also help immensely.

The Differences Between Large and Small Projects

Here are a few ways in which small to medium projects differ from larger ones.

  1. Length of time to complete. This may seem obvious but larger projects take a lot longer to complete than small and medium projects. Smaller projects can be done in an hour, a day, a week or maybe more, while large projects take much longer, even up to months or years.
  2. Risk Factor. There is a risk factor to everything you do, and projects are no different. The failure of a small/medium project will not have the same effect on the business bottom line as would the failure of a large project.
  3. Stakeholders. The number of people affected by the project outcome are less than for a large project.
  4. Team Size. With small projects, the number of people involved in the implementation is less than for larger projects.
  5. Finish Line. With a large project that has a longer timeline, the emphasis to finish the job is not necessarily one of urgency. On the other hand, a smaller project has less maintenance, fewer bumps in the road and a “let’s get this done now” feeling.

Managing Smaller Projects

Is It Really a Project?

The starting line is to figure out if you actually have a project to complete or just a series of tasks to do.

Getting this right is of utmost importance as we have looked at in our previous article. A mistake here can truly be catastrophic to a small business operation.

Here are a number of questions to determine whether or not this constitutes a project.

  • Does this require the input or opinions of others?
  • Is this type of work unusual for your business, or is it something you have done before?
  • Can you guarantee results before you begin?
  • Is there a degree of risk involved to your business?
  • Can that risk be lessened with planning?
  • Are there timelines that need to be met?
  • Is the size of the work larger than normal for your business?
  • Are the essential ingredients (time, money etc.,) an unknown factor?
  • Will there be a great deal of teamwork and sharing required to complete the work?

If you find yourself answering “yes” to many or most of these questions, then you will know that you have a project on your hands.

The Three Amigos of Project Management

The ‘Three Amigos’ of project management are:

  • Project Planning,
  • Project Implementation, and
  • Project Closure.

Project Planning

The planning stage is the first step to be taken. As its name reflects, this is all about preparing a plan.

A project requires specific, detailed organization, and while the planning stage is in effect, no actual work is to be done.

Planning involves scoping out all the issues, creating a master plan to be your blueprint, and getting this signed off on by all the stakeholders, if indeed there are any.

Issues of money and costs are looked at, and a budget proposal is created along with scheduling and timelines.

Project Implementation

This stage of implementation is where “the rubber meets the road” so to speak. It is where the hands get dirty, and work begins.

The chief ingredient here is communication between everyone involved. You may be the only one on the project, but you still usually have to communicate with suppliers and/or clients and so on.

All the detailed steps that you drafted out in your project planning stage are completed here in this step.

Project Closure

The closure step is one where you begin the wrap-up schedule.

It involves completing the project, communicating with the project sponsors, and providing them with the deliverables. It also involves letting all members of the team know that the project is completed.

The closure step also reflects upon the experiences both good and bad that have shaped the project. Getting feedback from all the team is very important so the lessons learned can be applied to future projects.

Next week we will take a more in-depth look at the planning stage.

Other articles in this series include:
Project Management for Small Business
Managing Smaller Projects
Project Planning
Tools for Project Management

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