Taking a project management approach to help business success
Sep 20, 2022
Many people associate the term ‘project management’ with larger organisations who have dedicated personnel to complete these jobs. However, ‘project management’ applies to organisations of all shapes and sizes, and it plays a vital role in the success of a business.
Put simply, project management involves setting a budget, resource and timeframe for specific tasks to be completed in, and then delivering it in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.
Successful project management is something all businesses should strive to achieve. HGI’s dedicated Project Manager, Kara, has outlined her top tips to help your business take a project management approach to underpin your business success.
1. Everything starts with a plan
Building a plan lays the foundation for your success. It clearly communicates to you and your team what you want to achieve, how you’re going to do it, and when by.
Start your plan by summarising the purpose and objectives of your project. Once this is clear, a task plan should be created, which would include a list of tasks, their deadlines, the person responsible for completing them, any resource required and a budget if applicable.
It’s important to include allocated roles and responsibilities within your plan, so everyone involved knows exactly what tasks they’re responsible for. Someone will also need to take on the lead role of project manager to make sure everyone completes their tasks by the required deadlines. This role is vital to ensure the project stays on track and is delivered successfully. This person is also a point of contact if there are any issues or opportunities identified during the project.
There are fancy project management systems available to purchase which can help you set up your plan, but an Excel spreadsheet is a great, cheap alternative system which can be used effectively to manage projects.
2. Set realistic expectations
One of the most common reasons why a project fails is because unrealistic targets are set from the start. When building your plan, really question whether your expectations are reasonable.
Are your deadlines realistic? Does the person responsible for delivering them have capacity within their role to meet the deadline? Do they have the right skills required to deliver the task? Is the budget practical? Has outsourcing or extra resource been considered?
Within your plan you should always allow for contingency. Naturally, things don’t always go to plan, but by allowing extra time and budget in your plan can help take the hit if something does go wrong.
Consider this, would you rather set achievable targets at the start and deliver the project successfully on time and to budget, or set unrealistic targets and fail to meet the objectives?
3. Focus on practicing good project management skills
There are some essential skills to put into practice when it comes to successful project management.
Effective communication really is key here. Regular communication with your delivery team will help to keep the project on track and identify any issues at an early opportunity. But don’t forget to communicate with other relevant stakeholders too, such as other team members, customers, and suppliers…
Organisation and time management is also an important skill for successful project management. Being organised comes naturally to some, but if you don’t naturally possess this skill, you’ll need to work hard to accomplish it. Some simple tips to stay organised are to; allocate dedicated time for your projects, properly prepare for project team meetings and regularly check your task and timing plan.
Other project management skills to remember are leadership, problem solving, risk management and proactiveness.
4. Develop a schedule of projects
Create progress within your business by developing a monthly schedule of project-based outcomes. This schedule will map out an overview of all your business projects by month and department, helping you to keep your plans on track. This should be a working document, so keep it up to date regularly with individual project progress, and make any alterations if necessary.
The content within your schedule can be determined by what’s important and useful to you and your business, but it's definitely a good idea to include the project owner and who is ultimately responsible for its successful delivery. This will reinforce ownership. Other information to include in your schedule for each project is a delivery deadline and project RAG status (Red, Amber, Green).
5. Create Standard Operating Procedures
Many tasks and processes within a business are routine, so to help ensure the most efficient process is followed every time, standard operating procedures (SOP’s) should be created and documented. This is a set of detailed work instructions that describe each stage of the process.
Not only does investing time in creating your standard operating procedure help to ensure efficiency within your business, but it also assists with training employees, maintaining standards and consistency.
SOP’s can be created in a range of formats, including a flow chart or a table, or if you have a project management system, it may have functionality to create and store your SOP’s.
Project management isn’t easy but it is a fundamental part of excellent management and overall business success. Focusing on good project management and implementing the right strategy and tools to underpin growth and success should be one of the top priorities for any business.