Whether your next business project is a new online marketing channel or a new product launch, solid project management skills can ensure it goes off without a hitch. Need a refresher on project management basics? TheWire is pleased to oblige with the following eight-point crash course.
Most projects can be broken down into four parts. Scope covers the objectives, requirements and size of the project. Resources include the people, equipment and materials required to complete the project. Timeline includes the time for each task, critical path, dependencies and overall duration. Finance covers the budget, costs, contingencies and profit.
Define your project’s objectives and make sure they’re aligned with your company’s strategic goals. Be precise about what the project is expected to accomplish. For example, if you are looking to sell products on Amazon.com, define the products, shipping options, target consumers, geographical regions and demographics.
Determine what resources you have to execute your project. These could include people, facilities, equipment, money and anything else you may have. Identify the internal resources and those you may need to outsource to partners. Have your budget parameters ready when it’s time to negotiate a rate.
Establish a target completion date that can be used to set an overall timeline for completion of each task required to complete the project.
Determine who will be part of the project team, choosing members with the requisite skills for the job. Remember, it’s a team first and not a friends group. Choose members based on skills that will keep things moving forward.
Identify and list all the major tasks involved in your project. Brainstorming is an effective way to accomplish this and to forecast any potential bumps in the road.
Assign team members and allocate resources for each task. A variety of project management software packages specifically designed for small businesses can help you do this. A Google Doc or Excel spreadsheet can also help you outline tasks, resources and more.
Make sure the team records its progress using the software or tool you choose. This will allow you to adjust for faster or slower progress, identify areas that need attention and keep overall tabs on the project through completion.
Effective project management may come naturally to some, but more often than not, it’s a skill that’s learned through experience. By knowing the basics and applying them in your everyday business, your chances of a managing a successful project will increase.