How can project management tools benefit small businesses?
When you set out to start your own business, you were buzzing with excitement at all the things you were going to achieve. Then, hopefully, you realized that there is no ‘I’ in ‘team’, and that you have to work closely with your colleagues in order to deliver top results. With each brand new project that you enlist, your workload expands, and the quality of your outcomes depends on the extent of your collaborative capabilities… and, on the range of your organizing skills.
What is project management to you?
Project management is essentially the know-how of bringing desirable results when you set out to create a new product, service, or process. How well does your small company fare when it comes to project management, and would you be interested in taking things to a whole new level? I have a pretty good idea of how you can transform the way work gets done at your headquarters. Read further.
The pitfalls of traditional collaboration methods
It is the same with most start-ups: the plan for a project only resides in the mind of the business owner, who may or may not manage to get everyone on board. If everyone in your company gets together to work in the same place, then post-its or sticky notes sent by one team member to another can serve as notifications, reminders or call-to-action prompts that are issued during an ongoing project. However, they are primeval methods, compared to their digital counterparts: instant messaging and e-mails.
Not even e-mails convey information clearly. Every written message, no matter how concise, is open to interpretation – especially since they lack a visual representation, because our human brains are more receptive to imagery, than text. ‘I love checking my Inbox from 5 to 5 minutes, to make sure I get all updates from my peers and clients’ – said no one, ever. Besides, some e-mails are delayed, when the last thing you can afford to waste is time. Even further, if you have to communicate something to several people at once, then it takes too long to get all the CCs and BCCs right.
Frequent ‘in situ’ meetings may help everyone get on the same page about a project schedule and specific tasks, but they present a huge risk: they tend to go on for much longer than planned. When you’re working against the clock to deliver a project, every minute of every hour counts. Plus, what happens when some team members are unavailable, or located on the other side of the globe? Again, the miracles of the Digital Age give us a helping hand: face-to-face meetings can be replaced with live video conferences. And that doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Start-up vs. large enterprise: widespread misconceptions
While it is true that a small business has limited resources and cannot be expected to operate at the same level as a corporation, solid management is all the more vital in the web design industry – for basic survival reasons. As a matter of fact, the better you harness the power of your resources, the bigger the odds of out-classing your competitors.
Project management is an area that you can and must address as well as possible. Employing some specialized services for this purpose does not require a large capital investment, as some of you may think. The web is brimming with low-cost and even free tools that enable you to assign tasks, track working time, share many types of files, and discuss progress with your team and stakeholders.
The case for using project management software
I know that activities related to project management demand that you put in additional work, to begin with. If you’re willing to go that extra mile, then your company’s booming success as a result of it might take you by surprise. Project management software lets you think out of the box, and opens your mind to objective analysis of every decision, so you can determine all the risks, and avoid negative outcomes.
The best project management tools don’t even demand that you have prior knowledge or practiced project management skills – only the willingness to hold the reins of your chariot and guide your team through well-planned iterations until a project crosses the finish line. As such, soon enough you may find that it’s child’s play to diligently schedule your projects, and see that all milestones are properly met.
These web-based tools can also be very educational. The more projects you complete, the better your team gets at sharing information and synchronizing. You would quickly reach an understanding of what makes your team tick, and use that knowledge to increase performance and productivity. You would also get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t work in the overall process. Thus, you and your team mates can refine your working style and adopt goal-driven habits.
Finally, I suggest we take a minute to ponder all the aspects of your business that a consistent framework improves. Using accomplished online tools to manage creative projects is like applying basic common sense when it comes to product/service development, marketing, expense estimation, invoicing, real-time team briefing, file sharing, feedback gathering, etc. What’s more, first-rate platforms for project management let you work from your desktop, as well as over modern mobile devices. Plus, they are available in a multitude of languages.
Come to think of it, the sky’s the limit. With such sound management methodology at your side, your creative team is bound to out-speed and out-collaborate others in no-time. Given that you put in the initial effort to organize with an accessible tool, your company will gain more and more credibility, be praised far and wide for its efficacy, not to mention that its finances will skyrocket.