Project Management Solutions Just for Small Businesses
Project work is an important aspect of small business success. Projects are used for growth and innovation and are often related to improving the customer experience. Owners need project management practices to be efficient and effective to see the necessary positive returns for their business.
Inherent to this is understanding that projects are a specific type of work. They have a start date, an end date, and deliverables along the way that often more than one person is responsible for producing. For example, redesigning your company website is a project. Creating monthly content for it, however, is just ongoing work with no end date in the forecast. Understanding the particular nature of project work will help your company identify the number of projects they potentially have for the year and the value of implementing a project management solution.
Project work that relies on human memory or trying to track everything in emails is a recipe for disaster. For smaller organizations this has often been the case and it leaves them vulnerable to many downsides. For projects to be delivered on time and on budget, information and tasks need to be written down and assigned, deadlines plotted, documents shared, and a collaborative workspace for constant communication.
Whether you are a business owner, who is just getting his or her company off the ground or an established company looking to expand, it becomes clear pretty quickly that project failure is not an option. But yet many organizations experience an unacceptable project failure rate year after year. According to the Project Management Institute, only eight out of 100 companies report a project success rate greater than 80 percent. Additionally, according to its 2016 statistics, less than 70 percent of projects met their original goals, only 57 percent finished within their budgets, and barely half the projects were completed on schedule.
Small businesses really need to see better success than this. They need to reap the benefits that large enterprises have been afforded through the use of project management software. It’s often been too expensive and complex for many business owners to consider. However, today there are a number of affordable, even free, technology solutions that can help smaller companies.
Experts do agree that the best project management technology solutions support a collaborative work environment. This helps a team leader and members handle common problems that often derail a project. For example, missed deadlines may happen frequently and can be automatically rescheduled along with other tasks that are affected by them. A real-time workspace lets team members and outside managers keep an eye on the details of the project as well as generate reports, track team members’ time, and even integrate with invoicing and billing in necessary.
Small businesses also just need to recognize that they will probably have different needs than large organizations. So it’s important to find the project management tool that best fits their business. They may want to begin by thinking about the three biggest challenges ahead for them next year and go from there.
Additionally, owners need to consider cost-effectiveness and ease-of-use. These factors are critical for determining the right fit for an organization. Many project platforms that work with large enterprises have a monthly, per-user fee structure, while platforms suited to small businesses charge a flat monthly rate for a set number of licenses. Permission levels are also an indicator if a particular solution is better suited for a large or small company. Platforms that have several different levels of permission for executives, managers, project managers, etc., requires a hierarchical approach to work getting accomplished. This may not be necessary in a small organization where employees often wear many different hats.
Cloud-based solutions are now in the picture and can make all this a reality for small businesses too. In the cloud, scalable options are available along with staggered pricing based on needed add-on tools. Now small businesses can have the access to important project management advantages once only reserved for large companies with deep pockets.
Sources: Inc. Project Management: Not Just for the Big Guys Anymore. 2017.
- The Best Project Management Software for 2017. November 2017.