Project Management & Planning Articles

Small Business Project Management: Five Tips to Help Project Managers

by Stephanie Watson
Published on 17 May 2012

Cloud-based Project Management Apps

Every small business owner has to manage projects. Projects are temporary, deadline oriented events outside of the normal realm of business operations management.

Managing projects requires a deadline, a budget, and a desired end result or deliverable. There can be one person or many people assigned to any one project. There are several common project management issues that pop up, that can be avoided if you take the right approach.

Five Tips To Help You Avoid Project Management Issues

1. Communication Issues - This can happen between you and the client, or between you and your staff. Whether you are dealing with contractors or employees, communication issues can hold up a project and even cause a project to fail.

Your small business can avoid communication issues by creating a basic communication procedure for each project. Some companies implement a project management system that limits communication about each project within the boundaries of the system. This way there aren't numerous emails floating about causing confusion. In addition, it eliminates the random email being lost.

2. Organization Issues - Being unorganized, having paper here, paper there, multiple copies of documents in various stages, emails you can't track down and numerous other issues with disorganization can cause you to miss deadlines, forget aspects of a project, and ultimately fail.

By using a cloud based project management software, you can set up a document repository that holds the main project documents. If one changes, everyone has the changed document immediately. This system will keep documentation, including the scope, and the desired deliverables in one spot.

3. Project Requirement Issues - Not knowing what the project requires, not understanding the terms of the project before accepting it, or allowing requirements to change once the project is underway, can cause many problems from turning out sub-par deliverables, to worse issues, such as not getting anything done. Going through a project in an organized manner will prevent most of this issue.

Having a basic template for projects to define the scope of the project, understand project feasibility, estimate project cost, and thoroughly study every issue of a project before even starting it, can go far in eliminating unknown requirement issues. Of course, a cloud-based project management system will also enable you to track and make changes that everyone is made aware of, immediately, without as much confusion as paper based systems.

4. Time Management Issues - Not having an idea of how long the project will take, should take, and actually is taking, as you move along is a huge problem because as we know, time is money. Not knowing how much time you're spending, and whether you're spending the time where it needs to be spent is a major problem with projects that can easily be eliminated.

A cloud-based system has tools that enable each member of the team to track time spent, mark off deliverables, and in some systems the project manager can even create an internal control that lets managers see what others are doing. Having a consistent project environment helps you avoid time management issues because your project data is all in one place.

5. Ensuring Follow Through - Not having a way to know if stakeholders, employees and contractors are doing their due diligence and following through on what they need to do to move the project in a successful direction is a huge disadvantage to old systems. Having a system in place, especially a cloud-based project management system that can automate many of the processes, will eliminate the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

Everyone can access the system (no matter where they are or what device they're using) and know what is being done, on a real-time basis with cloud-based apps. Each member of the team can read notes, read past communications, and know, at a glance, what has been done, as well as the cost thus far. This alone is a quality check because when participants realize that the project manager can see what is done, and what isn't done, they'll be less likely to wait until the last moment.

By using a cloud-based project management solution, your small business can move up a level in terms of providing on-time, above par deliverables that do not exceed costs. Leveraging cloud-based project management systems allow your small business to do what it couldn't do in the past due to the high cost of project management software. But now that's changed. With cloud-based systems, your small business can manage complex projects, from anyplace using any device, without missing a beat.

Take a look at this Infographic to Compare Popular Online Project Management Apps.