Project Management for Small Businesses – Some Misconceptions

When you walk into many small businesses, you’ll see sticky notes around people’s desk. These reminders are prompts for projects or other items they are working on. For a lot of small businesses, the “project plan” only exists in the owner or manager’s head.

Around the world governments and big business see the value of project management. Why do some small businesses not take advantage of project management techniques and tools? Why do they not get help from companies who provide project management services?

Project management makes sense for even the smallest business. Project management is a management process. A management process is a series of actions, changes, or functions that bring about a result. Applied to project management, the “actions, changes or functions” are temporary endeavours to develop a unique product, process or service i.e. bring about a result. All businesses (whether for profit or not for profit) are or should be focused on results. Small Business projects include: setting up a company website; setting up premises in a new location or expanding the current location; or developing a new product.

Why do small businesses choose not to adopt project management? What are the misconceptions about those reasons.

  1. My business is small and I don’t need the overhead of project management or a project plan.

All small businesses, at some point, need to apply for a loan, conduct a marketing campaign, expand, or supply larger companies that have formal management processes. Using project tools like stakeholder analysis, communication planning and risk management will assist in those tasks. Project management gives businesses a competitive advantage over competitors who do not.

2. I am an expert in the industry, I don’t need project management.

Many small businesses are started by a person who has expertise in their industry. Having industry expertise is critical to business success. However, industry expertise does not mean project management expertise. Expertise in running the projects needed to convert industry expertise into successful business outcomes is also critical. A quick Google search shows some of the top reasons small businesses fail are: poor planning; lack of management and lack of capital. Project management, while not a guarantee of success, can assist small businesses prevent some of the common causes of failure.

3. I can’t afford project management or project management consultants.

A common myth is that to implement project management processes or use a consultant requires a huge investment. Would you conduct your own legal services, do your own tax accounting or design and build your own website? If you want to stay in business you wouldn’t. Just like other professional services, small businesses should look for help in implementing project management processes. In some cases, let someone else manage the project end-to-end. By taking away the burden of the day-to-day project management and letting you “run the company”, these service providers can actually save small businesses money. The project management consultants can help you build your own framework and tools that you and your team can use on future smaller projects.

4. I need to act now and can’t wait; project management will slow me down.

Rushing into action without understanding all that is required to achieve success is dangerous.  It can lead to negative outcomes. Poor planning and rushing ahead could lead to serious harm to the business. Project management provides the tools to analyse if an initiative will, or will not, provide the desired outcomes. Planning, budgeting, risk assessment and defining outcomes is vital for success.

5. It will require more time to follow project management practices.

Having a process to follow may add time to the duration of an activity.  If you added an extension to your company’s building, would you rather a quality end result, or would you prefer it done quickly but with lots of problems (leaks, bad workmanship, etc)? High quality building works always use project management tools. Given that small business well is essential and project management can help ensure things are done well.

Project management can actually reduce the time needed.  It can remove delays and misunderstandings when all the players know what must happen when.  They know what is expected of them and can plan to deliver.

Project management is valuable for any size business. By getting help with managing your projects you reduce risk and will achieve success from your plans.

Contact us at E2E The Change Agency to discuss how we can make your projects more successful.  We are qualified and experienced Project Managers and Change Managers who love helping businesses succeed.