Project management tips for busy business owners

Aug 31, 2022 9:46:33 AM

As a business owner, ‘Project Manager’ may be one of the many hats you need to wear. Fortunately, the project management profession can offer some tips to help lighten your load and deliver better results. Read on if you’d like to benefit from having a SMART goal, agreed scope and KPIs, an agile approach and open collaboration.

Start with project purpose and a SMART goal

When you run a business, the projects you must undertake can be anything from updating your technology, introducing a new service or holding an event. Every project will benefit from a clear purpose that identifies what you’re trying to achieve. A good place to begin is by writing down why you’re taking on a project and what your ultimate outcome will be. For example, we need to update our software, so when we're working remotely over summer, we can still easily collaborate on customer jobs and meet their deadlines. Take a moment for imagination!

Once you're clear about the purpose of your project, you can define your project goal more precisely using the acronym SMARTSpecific, Measurable, Action-orientated, Relative and Time-bound. For example, ‘Our goal is to update the operating systems on all seven computers and train staff on using the new systems by 31 October whilst meeting our $1400 budget and requiring staff to take no more than 3 hours each away from their normal work. Read more about using SMART goals here.

Set scope and KPIs

Setting a SMART project goal can help you decide what is in and out of scope. In other words, what things will you include in your project, and what will you set aside for another time? In the example above, you may decide not to update anyone’s personal laptop or their work phones and iPads. However, if you discover one of the computers needs repairs to run the new software, you may prepare to include this in scope because you’ll need it done to achieve the project goal.

KPIs – Key Performance Indicators are measures you can check along the way to ensure you're on track. These usually include budget and timelines and are specific.

Agile Project Management can make the most of scarce time and resources

Agile project management has become one of the most popular approaches to getting things done in a fast-paced world. And Agile works well in small organisations where time and resources are short. Agile breaks projects into focused steps and ensures continuous review to keep things moving and improving. This is effective because you see and review results straight away and respond to reach your goal faster. Agile contrasts against a traditional "Waterfall method", where steps flow from one to the next in a linear way. Results aren’t seen or checked until the end.

Collaborate to make the most of talent and skills

One of the most important parts of project management is clarity about what part each person will play, what they’ll be responsible for and how you’ll communicate. To define roles, many project managers set tasks against a ‘RACI chart’, which establishes the following.

Responsible = the person responsible for doing the task who will do the tasks
Accountable = the person who is accountable when the ‘buck stops’ and must sign off on tasks
Consulted = anyone who needs to give input before the work is done or signed off
Informed = people who must be kept in the loop but are not actively involved

In the example of updating your software, you may make your office manager Responsible for the software update while you’ll remain Accountable. The rest of the team and your accountant must be Consulted before you start the process, as they may have insights you'd overlooked. You may keep key clients Informed so they know that while your computers will be offline for a day, you’ll be all set for summer.

If you’re going to stay Agile, regular meetings with the project team will help you see progress, address hold-ups and spot opportunities. Open and honest communication will set you up for success. You can begin by sharing your project's purpose and SMART goal, your scope and KPIs, and how you'll stay agile by reviewing and adapting as you go.

Even when you bring the most impactful project management techniques to play, you may still feel you have a lot to juggle. Often, choosing which project to prioritise can be a challenge in itself. A Business Mentor can provide support in many valuable ways. They can help you look at where your time is best spent, which work could have the biggest impact and help you generate ideas. To find out more, get started here.