Is my Business Too Small for Project Management?

You may be thinking that your business is just too small for BIG Project Management techniques, but that is simply not the case. Dont let all of the fancy terms like Network diagram, Gantt chart, and Work Breakdown Structure scare you. And dont worry if you dont know how to use Microsoft Project or Primavera or any other PM software application out there…you dont need it.

Project Management is about organizing your data for a specific project and updating it as the project progresses. You can use a information document or an Excel spreadsheet if you like, as long as you have something proven for your project, you are contributing to the success of that project.

Lets review the definition of a project…a project has a beginning and an end date with defined resources. So if you have a project that must start tomorrow and end by next Friday with a set budget of $1000 and 2 contractors working on it…You have a project! And you can manage it effectively by starting with a pen and paper. Not convinced however? Okay, lets review how we can accomplish this…

First you have to determine how many working days you have to complete the project, minus Holidays, Weekends (unless you are a workaholic like me), and scheduled Vacations. So get your calendars out and start counting. Next, jot that number down for future use.

Now to breakdown the responsibilities. You can easily create a Work Breakdown Structure because it is nothing more than a highly glorified detailed outline. Level 0 is the main project goal, Level 1 is the first task, then you can add sub-responsibilities underneath it and move onto adding your next level(s). For example, here would be a sample WBS for making French toast. *my personal favorite* 

Level 0 Make French toast

Level 1 Gather elements (or materials)

(it is okay to list elements underneath level) ie spatula, pan, eggs, bread, cinnamon, etc…

Level 2 Preparations

Preheat pan

Add butter to pan

Beat egg into bowl with cinnamon

Level 3 Cook

Dip bread in egg combination on both sides

Add bread to pan

Flip when one side is brown

Remove when other side is brown

Level 4 Clean Up

Wash pan and spatula

Rinse dishes and put in dishwasher

Put away elements

Clean table

I opted to not include the task of Eating, although it was tempting. 😉

So now you have your responsibilities broken down in levels with sub-responsibilities, now you simply assign them. Next to each task put a persons name, one of your resources. Then have them calculate how many hours, days or already minutes it will take to complete each task. Always include your staff in this course of action.

Now you are ready to do some basic calculations. Add up the hours (or at any rate unit of measure you used) for each resource and multiple that by their pay rate and Voila! You have a great beginning cost examination for your project.

The next step would be to add in the cost of materials, expenses and such and add that to the beginning cost examination figures and subtract from your total budget. Are you under or over budget? If under, Good for YOU! If over, you have to go back to your outline and see where you can cut down on the time for some of the responsibilities, or perhaps skimp a little on cheaper materials. Of better however, what responsibilities can be done simultaneously! Your absolute last resort is to cut pay rates. You need your resources happy and productive. 😀

Once you have the numbers you want, take all of this information and plug it into a information document with a table or bulleted list, or Excel with rows and columns.

Here are some tips:

o Use cells in a table or cells in a spreadsheet to plot by day, week or task

o Use excel Sum button for totaling columns and rows with 1 click

o Highlight or Shade in color basic responsibilities that must be completed on time

Keeping it Simple is the meaningful for Small Businesses such as myself, but believe me you are using the basic concepts of Project Management and you CAN be successful with it.

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