Working in a small business has its perks and extra freedom, but being small comes with added difficulties. Organization skills can make or break a company, and many small agencies don’t have the type of organizational structure that larger firms can employ. You can avoid stress and angry clients by adopting some of these project management methods and apps to ease the process for you. Your reward will be less stress, happy clients, and more profits!
Drafting a Plan
One of your first steps in adopting proper project management practices should be to draft a Project Definition Document. This is a document that explains what you do as a business, how you intend to do it, and procedures for adapting and handling issues. A good Project Definition should include a Project Overview, Objectives, Assumptions and Risks, Approach, Organization, and Cost Estimates. StratPad is an app geared towards those writing business plans that could be of use for this step. The app also offers video tutorials and contacts with professional business coaches to help get you on the right track. If you don’t give yourself a map, how where you know where you’re going?
Defining the Distance
Your next move should be to establish a Work Plan with a Planning Horizon. The Work Plan should be a step-by-step set of objectives that include assigning roles and timelines for completing deliverables. The Planning Horizon is the furthest out that you feel comfortable constructing your Work Plan. Beyond that, the planning should be broader and more conceptual, and can be fleshed out as you approach your Planning Horizon.
Keeping an Eye on Costs
Monitoring your budget and scheduling large tasks, but are key for success. Workflow Max is a tool that can be a major help in tracking employee hours and job costs. Not only does the job costing system allow you to monitor your expenses, it can also help you calculate profitability and let you know if you need to raise your rates. This can keep you from overspending or even worse, letting invoices accidentally slip by unpaid!
Beware of Hiccups
An important aspect of project management is looking for warning signs for problems and catching them before they mutate into truly destructive issues. A decrease in the quality of your product, a decline in team morale, or excessive overtime scheduling are problems that can crop up naturally but must be dealt with swiftly. Initially, you might not know what problems to expect, but with open eyes and ears, fail-safes can be written into the company’s organization and approach to handle such problems automatically.
Communication is Key
With any project, communication is of the utmost importance, between both clients and your team of employees. Protocol for regular communication should be written into your company’s Approach and Organization to keep everyone on the same page. InVision is a great tool for allowing feedback between customers and your business. Clients can make comments directly onto your designs, which can help avoid confusing email chains or situations where input is not recorded. InVision also facilitates good communication within your business by turning your feedback on projects into to-do lists for your employees. Comments made automatically keep everyone up to date.
Keep your scope focused and avoid major creeping changes. It’s not uncommon that a client might want to make changes to the project or adjust what they want from their final project. But too many small changes and additions can sneak up on you and cause a simple project to turn into an unwieldy train-wreck. A good project manager should be on the lookout always to ensure that small changes to the scope of the project do not affect the central Project Overview.
Be Ready for Success!
With the right strategies, a business of any size can prepare itself for long-term project management success. With this knowledge and the technology and tools at your assistance, you should be in line for more profitable and stress-free projects, with plenty of happy customers ready to work with you again