One of the most daunting tasks for a small business owner is often serving as a project manager and facing the responsibilities that come with leading a team throughout a project. While you may feel confident in many aspects of running your business, planning and managing your first large project can bring forth a number of anxieties and concerns over deliverables, time management, and budgeting. The good news, however, is that by understanding the basics of project management, you can make your first team project a resounding success and gain confidence in handling larger projects as your business grows.
Generally, project management can be broken down into four key components: scope, schedule, resources, and budget.
The first (and perhaps most important) step in successfully managing any project is defining its overall scope. This will involve careful consideration and definition of the overall outcomes and goals of the project. These goals and outcomes should be concrete, agreed upon by your entire team, and measurable. That is, by the completion of your project, you should be able to objectively determine whether or not your initial goals have been met.
Another challenging aspect of project management is timing and scheduling. Often, the best way to get started here is to create a massive list of steps and tasks that will need to be followed in order to complete the project. From there, it is possible to assign priority to certain tasks and begin to build a schedule that, if followed by all team members, should allow the project to be completed on time. When managing the schedule and timeline of a project, always include some “wiggle room” to account for missed deadlines or delays.
The resources needed to complete your project will vary, but in almost all cases, you’ll need not only your project team, but possibly deliverables and other materials as well. The key to a successful project is to choose your team wisely and delegate tasks within your team so that each member understands his or her responsibilities and specific deadlines. All members of the team should have a solid understanding of the project timeline, goals, and outcomes. Depending on the size of your team or the scope of your project, you may even need to consider designating a few supervisory team members to oversee various tasks and then report back to you.
The cost of a project cannot be overlooked, so be sure to consider the costs associated with carrying out the work as well as projected profits you’ll receive upon completion. Always plan for contingencies and “surprise” expenses and you’ll have an easier time maximizing profits and keeping your project within budget.
Overall, managing a team to complete a project can seem like an overwhelming task, but by maintaining open communication and keeping these four key pillars of project management in mind along the way, your first team leadership project can go more smoothly for all involved.