Project management tools to help your business
Any business that handles various small, temporary projects will need project management expertise; projects that don't get completed on time can affect your profits, resources and overall success. Whether you decide to undertake some project management training in a formalized setting, learn from the experts around you or rely on the insight of skilled project managers, the keys to managing the various special tasks will be a sound approach and helpful tools. Learn about project management methods and how they will restore organization and allow your business to run smoothly and efficiently.
About the Project Management Process
While project management shares some important elements with small business management, each type of management handles different types of tasks. Since a project is a definite idea instead of the day-to-day workings of the business, the typical constraints involved in project management are time, scope and budget. These can be hard to juggle, but there are several approaches to managing project activities that consider overall objectives, timeline, cost and the various roles and responsibilities of employees.
Regardless of the specific method you use, the same management processes will apply: initiation, planning or development, production or execution, monitoring and controlling and closing. The traditional approach breaks the project down into several phases, from the initiation stage to the project completion or closing, which provides a clear structure for the project. Of course, each project is different—some will skip certain stages, others will go through them repeatedly. The key to success with this approach is a well-defined project; a larger, ambiguous project will be very difficult to track and divide appropriately.
Alternatively, you can place emphasis on the physical and human resources that are needed, organizing the steps of the project around the available resources. Some approaches are better suited to more uncertain project schedules, while others like the "event chain methodology" take into consideration the way events are expected to impact each other to change or challenge the course of the project.
A Better Approach to Project Management
Project management is complex, but there are tips and tools to simplify and clarify the concepts. Project management tools include brainstorming, fishbone diagrams, linear flow charts and Gantt charts; some are useful at one given point in the process, while others can be used through most of the project phases. Often, a single project can be clarified and managed best with a combination of techniques.
With the help of project management software, you can use multiple methods to track and manage your project, and you can even find online project management software that allows you to e-mail, share files, use templates and delegate tasks to manage your project easily and effectively. Keep in mind that good project management largely depends on clear and frequent communication, so any tool you choose should facilitate dialogue between managers and employees.