Using project management techniques to boost small business success

Small businesses are often described as the engine-room for innovation. They have the freedom to move quickly and experiment with new processes in order to get the job done on time and within budget.  

Small businesses should consider following a project management approach when a piece of works departs from the norm in terms of its scale, risk exposure and even value to the company.

The first port of call is the PRINCE2 programme (or PRojects IN Controlled Environments) which offers a great introduction into how to define scope, stage, control and implement projects effectively.

Indeed, valuable new project management techniques can be quickly introduced into the business. Courses like the PRINCE2 Course Glasgow run intensive practitioner and foundation courses over two days – which means a team member can absorb best practice lessons and be in a position to immediately introduce these to their organisations within a very short timeframe.

There are similar courses operating in northern England – such as PRINCE2 Course Leeds and PRINCE2 Course Manchester – as well as London, Belfast, Cardiff and Dublin. These foundation courses a great springboard into more specialised certifications such as Agile Project Management and Scrum Training.

In addition, the Association of Project Management as the chartered professional body provides comprehensive guidance on how to.

Some of the best project management tools will already be known to many small business organisations. Online platforms like Trello and Asana are widely used and are a great way to organise planning and assign tasks within the same place. Software of this type is useful for bringing teams together across various sites, encouraging information sharing and monitoring progress.

But with all other aspects of business operations, projects are subject to threats both internal and external. A risk register provides a great way to identify, track and remedy issues that could derail a project.

Documents such as Gantt charts are a good way to visualise and track scheduled and current activity. While useful, be careful to avoid creating highly dense charts as these can make the critical path to success less clear.

Aside from tools and techniques, the success of any project is driven by the quality of communication within a team and across stakeholders. Regular face-to-face planning meetings and risk workshops enable information cascade whilst also encouraging consistent feedback into the implementation process.

When trialling and deploying new processes, it is vitally important to ensure knowledge gained from the project management experience are retained within the business.

Upon a project’s completion, set aside time to review and critically assess the team’s performance. Lessons are learned from this final phase enables an organisation to operate more efficiently and productively on any future projects.

By using proven project management techniques and processes, small business organisations can develop new skills and improve standards of delivery. The key lies in ensuring that every project management plan is responsive, adaptable and communicated effectively.

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