Keep Projects On Track With An Effective Project Management Process

Small businesses often live in a state of ‘organized’ chaos. Processes can get thrown out the window in favor of trying to get as many tasks done as possible, even if it leads to subpar work.

Further, it’s not always easy to get managers and employees to follow a project management process, especially if there’s a learning curve. However, an effective process is critical to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Many entrepreneurs and small business owners lack formal project management experience, but all hope isn’t lost. It’s entirely possible to learn how to manage projects more effectively, and here are some tips you can use.

1. Set clear goals for every project

Objectives for the project should be established from the start: 

  • What are the overall goals for the project? 
  • Are there any benchmarks we can use to measure performance?
  • How many deliverables does the project include?
  • What are the deadlines for each deliverable?
  • Have these goals been adequately communicated to the whole team?

2. Establish roles for each project 

The major three roles are project manager, project sponsor, and stakeholders:

  • stakeholder is anyone who has an interest in the project. These people are updated via the sponsor. 
  • The project sponsor takes an active role in the project and usually has approval authority. 
  • The project manager is the person actually responsible for the day-to-day operations of the project.

The roles that your team holds may change from project to project, which is why it’s important to revisit them at the beginning of each new project.

3. Determine the project’s major phases

Every project has several phases. When a phase is completed, it signals that it’s time to move on to the next phase, 

Generally, phases are broken up like this:

  • Strategy and Business Case: This phase defines the business requirements and methodology for meeting those requirements. At this time it is important for project managers to determine whether project goals can be achieved within the required timeframe and budget.
  • Definition and Planning: This phase involves putting together the project plan or scope and laying out all work that needs to be done. Teams should also review resources and project requirements to determine if additional resources are needed. 
  • Launch: To launch the project, team members should be given roles and responsibilities.
  • Development and Testing: Now, major parts of the project can be created and tested as necessary.
  • Monitoring: Throughout every phase, the project manager will check to see if the project is progressing as planned. If not, the project manager may have to add resources or reevaluate timelines.
  • Project Close: Once the project is delivered and approved by the client, documentation about the project must be completed and saved. The project should be reviewed to determine what should be done in the future to improve the overall process.

4. Recap the lessons learned

The project close phase is an important one, so let’s dive a bit deeper into what you should do once a project is finished.

Once a project is complete, a full project review should take place. Look at everything from the communication between the team, to timeline progression and what fell through the cracks. Ask questions like:

  • Were corners cut to get things done? How did it impact the final outcome?
  • Could processes and internal communication be improved? 
  • Were client needs and initial goals adequately met?

When you learn what worked, what didn’t, and what can be improved, future projects will run much smoother. Your team will feel more empowered to meet timelines, adhere to budgets, and deliver excellent work.