Managing Small Projects

I READ A GOOD ARTICCLE CALLED “MANAGING SMALL PROJECTS By Simon Buehring.  Have added few points from my end as well.

People always feel the project management processes is only for large projects. They don’t apply to smaller projects like fit out projects etc. Its not true. The fundamentals remain the same. Here are some of the points

Focusing on Project Delivery

One of the arguments against using project management methodologies is that they are very process-centric resulting in vast quantities of project documentation which are simply not practical or desirable on small projects. This is a powerful argument and any method which focuses on producing documentation at the expense of delivering the benefits of the project will be a hindrance rather than a benefit. After all, the name of the game in project management is delivering business objectives, not producing lot of documents. Today Agile method of project management is happening in software projects where the objective & time is linked.

Apply the Best Practices

It is important to note that we should produce based on objective, nothing more, nothing less. A simple rule of thumb is: if it’s useful in helping us to deliver the business objectives of the project then produce it, if it isn’t useful in helping us to deliver the business objectives of the project then don’t waste time to produce it. With this in mind, I believe that in all projects, at a minimum it is best to apply project management best practices. These are the proven practices which can be quickly implemented and you can get the desired results.

Defining Objectives and Scope

Even on the smallest project there will be objectives which must be achieved. As a project manager, it is in your interest to define what these objectives are since you are likely to be assessed on whether the project meets those objectives. It is important to ensure the project meets those objectives and you are accountable for this.

The defined and documented set of objectives is your insurance policy against your manager or customer later coming along and saying you didn’t meet the objectives.This also clears what is expected from Project Manager.

The scope forms the boundary of your project. If you don’t define what it is, the likelihood is that it will grow and grow as the project progresses and although you might have started managing a very small project, before long your project could become very much bigger than when you set out.

You still need to document who are the stakeholders on a small project as well.

Defining Deliverables

The definition, characteristics , features of deliverables must be documented for any project whether it is a small of large. Everyone must be on same page when it comes to deliverables to avoid confusions and disputes later So, always define and document the deliverables.

Project Planning

If you were to walk up Mount Everest, you would never do it without a considerable amount of planning. Even if you walk up the hill at the back of your house, there is probably some planning involved – what time do you go? What should you take with you? It is the same on even the smallest project where you will still need to work out which activities are required to produce a deliverable, estimate how long the activities will take, work out how many staff and resources are required and assign activities and responsibilities to staff.

Communication

Even in the smallest project team comprised of just a project manager and one other person, the project manager will still need to assign tasks and responsibilities to the other person. It can’t be assumed that they will know what they should do without it being effectively communicated from the project manager.

You can communicate the plans via email, or give a print out of the plan to your project team member(s), or better still, call a meeting and run through the plan with the project team members. Remember, if the plan changes, you will also need to communicate the changes to your team as well.

Tracking and Reporting Progress

This can not be ignored whether project is small or large. Every one is on project to deliver it on right time. If we do not track, we will fail. It may not require a detailed daily meeting. Even a daily reporting on mails, groups is ok.

Alternatively a short 15 minute face to face catch up can accomplish the same thing. Or a combination of the two things might be best. In any event, the project manager still needs to be fully aware of the progress that is being made so that progress can be tracked effectively.

Change Management

Even on our two person project, changes are likely to occur. Requests for change usually come from stakeholders and it is your responsibility as project manager to assess the impact of accepting these into the project.

On a small project there shouldn’t be any need for any fancy change control board to decide if the change is accepted. A quick discussion with the key stakeholder(s) should be sufficient for you to come to a decision providing you have worked out the impact on cost and schedule.

If we don’t have process, many issues of scope creeps can do a big damage to small project.

Risk Management

There will be risks even on a small project. Make sure you have thought through all the potential risks at the beginning of the project, monitor the top ten risks each week (or top five if the number of risks is small) and keep looking out for new risks. Failing to manage risk properly is one the main causes for projects to fail.

So, with little up front and ongoing effort, you get a big pay back if you manage the risks throughout the project.

Summary

So, in summary, applying the best practices to even a small project can be done without creating too much paperwork or overhead. Don’t think that because you’re managing a small project that you can ditch these best practices because if you do, you will regret it later when your project gets in a mess.

Also note that someday you will have to handle a larger projects in future.

18 Comments:

  1. There must be a Benefit of starting any project even if it is qualitative or a compliance issue…so the question is why carry out this project even if is going to cost £ xxx .How does it make the org.better?

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