A small business, like any other business, needs to efficiently manage the projects they are working on for their respective customer base. Please allow me to preface this article by stating that the type of project management I will be focusing upon in this article is not Information Technology (I.T.) based project management.
This article will focus on marketing and business development project management, and I will draw upon my over 14 years of professional experience in these two areas to share the best practices I have utilized in my career.
The key to effectively managing projects which develop business for your company is the ability to be nimble and flexible. The fast-paced business world changes rapidly, and your small business has to be able to adjust and adapt to this changing landscape in order to survive.
The first step – Project Entry
Every company whether it is large, medium, or a small business; each one has a system for managing their work. The entry of a project into this system is a critical first step in this process. In order to be efficient in turning out projects the entry process must be:
- 1. Concise – the project synopsis must be short yet detailed and precise
- 2. Action oriented – the project must clearly relate the action(s) needed
- 3. Past work – the project should always reference related previous work in order to help efficiency and save precious work hours to maximize sales
In my experience, I always used the project synopsis to provide my colleagues with the most critical information. It was written as directly and clearly as possible to eliminate potential misunderstandings or ambiguity. My projects were very action oriented and clearly demonstrated the action needed and by which individuals where needed to bring the project to a successful closure.
I also made it a habit to reference past projects and past work done either for that same customer, or for a related business objective. I would refer to the prior project number and the outcome of the project to assist my colleagues in providing a baseline for their work.
I found in my experience, the best way to organize your workflow on the projects within the system was via Excel. I would set up Excel spreadsheets for pending projects, new projects, and closed projects (usually backed up 4-6 weeks) and would track the status of each project by updating the Excel sheets with new information.
Then, at points where I was juggling several projects all within tight deadlines, I would print hard copies of the projects and the Excel sheets. I would separate them in piles in the categories I listed above, and file new information by attaching it to each project. I found that this method helped me to see the whole picture more clearly by having hard copies in front of me. It has to work for you and your respective business, but this method usually helped me to not miss an important detail or deadline.
This topic encompasses so much information that I created a second part to this article. In the second part of this series on Project Management, I will share my experience with a priority system, and also provide ideas for tracking projects that require the involvement of several different members of your company.