If you own a small business, you know that your success depends on your ability to adapt to change while delivering the right results - on time and within budget. Not an easy task in today’s fast-paced, competitive business environment, with evolving customer demands, new competitors, and pressure to do more with less.
Do any of these experiences sound familiar?
- You spent time and money on what you thought was a great idea, only to realize it’s not what your customers wanted.
- You spend too much of your time putting out fires rather than preventing them.
- Your competitor comes up with a brilliant idea – one you have been contemplating for a while. Ouch!
- You spend all your time “in” your business rather than “on” your business.
The first important tool of project management is the simple “Project Plan. " Before you take another step, you must have a Project Plan that includes the following elements:
- Goals: Define the opportunity to be seized or problem to be solved. Write your goals using the SMART method. (Are your goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound?) Be sure to clearly identify all your stakeholders’ needs and expectations (i. e. customers, employees, etc. )
- Deliverables: Create a list of things (items, features, services, etc. ) the project needs to deliver to meet these goals. Specify how and when each deliverable must be achieved. Assess whether each deliverable is absolutely necessary to achieve your project goals.
- Tasks and Schedule: Identify the specific tasks required, estimate the time required to complete, and who will carry out each task. Be sure to include your project team in estimating the work effort required to complete each task.
- Resources: Define the roles and responsibilities of the individuals on your team.
- Reporting: Define how you will report and track your progress and establish a mechanism to ensure your team is aware of all key milestones and work planned.
- Risks: Identify the risks that may impact your project and how you plan to deal with them.
Frank G Scarpaci is the owner and founder of Project Designworks, a project and event management, consulting, and training firm dedicated exclusively to progressive businesses, nonprofit organizations, and social entrepreneurs. With over 25 years of small business and corporate experience combined with over 10 years of community service involvement, Frank brings a unique experience and perspective to his role as a consultant.