In this post I am going to talk about small project management and I’m going to simplify it so it becomes easier to understand for small businesses, startups and especially for young project managers.
I have learnt these tips from working in different firms and with different project managers. I hope that sharing these tips could help your project management knowledge. Please feel free to feedback me and write your own tips and experience using the comments form.
Defining the Project
One of the common mistakes that project managers do is skipping this part – Before you get a project started, you need to define it clearly by asking questions such as:
- What is this project for?
- Who are the target audiences/customers?
- What are the objectives?
- How much time do I need to complete this project?
- What are the risks and how do I prevent them?
- What are the sources/resources for this project?
- What tools and apps do I need to perform it?
- What are the tasks to be done?
- Who are in charge for those tasks?
- How do I track the project and how do I do reporting?
- Where and how is it going to end?
- What next? What do I need to predict for the future?
By answering the above questions, you will get a better picture of how to manage your project and get it started.
Defining the Objective – and the Goals
Every project has an objective and as a project manager you should be able to define it and know how to achieve it. So go ahead and write them down and make a document of your projects objectives, otherwise it will be difficult to meet your objective later when you’re managing it.
A deliverable is a product or service that can be provided to your customer. For example, if you have a web design project, your deliverables are the data you are supposed to give to your customer which could be the website files and all other relevant data/documents (like PSD, PHP sources, website guidelines etc).
Therefore, you need to define all deliverables and document a list of them with other relative info such as the type, the person who is responsible for it and the date of delivery.
Planing your project is the key factor. Put all plans you have in mind on paper, go through them, prioritise them, analyse them and modify each point as many times as you wish until you finish up with a very well organised plan. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from your colleagues, your managers or even juniors who may be involved in minor tasks. Anybody’s suggestion could help you to come up with your best plan.
Prepare the resources you need to perform the project. What hardware and applications do you need? How will you allocate the tasks? Do you need to outsource any task? Which ones can be done in-house?
Make sure your plan is able to answer the questions you have written down previously to define your project. Don’t forget that successful managers are able to predict the future, so come up with some predictions and alternative plans (Plan B, C etc.) as well as ideas regarding post-plans.
Getting Started / Implementation
Once you’re good enough to go, prepare yourself and your team to kick it off. Do some simulations if you have enough time to see how ready you are to do it. Once everything is good, just get it started and move on based on your plan.
Do your best to manage your project as best as you can. Small projects might need more micro-management than usual as there are limited human resources. Make sure every single task is running well. Try to be responsible for every thing as you are the project manager. Be helpful and give your best to resolve any issue and come up with good working solutions.
Tracking, Reporting and Documentation
As a project manager you need to shadow all tasks you’re in charge of, no matter if it’s a two person project or more. Do write a report on every task and process, and ask other people to write one and submit it to you. Document all procedures and jobs. Go to to all reports and double check all documentations. Be sure all reports are clear and they briefly deliver what they are supposed to deliver.
Keep track of all tasks as they happen and try not to miss a single piece.
Getting the Things Done
You and people in your project should be able to finalise the task they are in charge of. Sometimes some events are not predictable and they are out of your control. In those cases, try to give your best to finalise the job and get them 80 percent done at a minimum. If one task is pending due to some data that your client supposed to supply to you but they are late, see if you can emulate the data and get the process done so you won’t be late. For example, if you’re managing a website development project and your client is too late to provide you the website content, you go ahead by putting some dummy content instead to develop your content database.
Testing & Maintenance
Like other production lines, your project needs to be monitored, tested and maintained properly. Once everything is done, you need to go through all debugging procedures, plus alpha and beta tests and finalisation of the post-production stage. One of the services that could add value to your management, is your responsibility for after-sale-services. Do back your client by supporting them after you have handed the project to them. This could be for a certain amount of time or even for a lifetime, depending on the project type and your contract.