Five Tips for Successful Project Management for SMBs

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Common Project Management Challenges

Challenging project management trends.

Despite the simplicity of prepackaged solutions and software applications, there may come a time when an SMB may have no other option but to roll their own development project or undertake the implementation of a complex ERP solution. As with any other IT project, SMBs embarking on this path face a certain prospect of project failure.


With this in mind, Namita Dhallan, executive vice president of product strategy and engineering at Deltek, kindly sent along five attributes for successful project management. The tips are based on a wealth of experience drawn from Deltek, a company that specializes in enterprise software and information solutions. We've mentioned some of the points in various blogs before, but it's refreshing to see them validated by experts. Moreover, the attributes also serve as a timely reminder of some of the most important factors in project management.


Company-wide Commitment and Executive Sponsorship


According to Dhallan, the first secret to any successful project is organizational buy-in led by the executive team. This includes both sponsorship of the project from the executive level and active involvement from all appropriate users. This is a point that I cannot agree more with, given that change management cannot be effective without the support of the company leadership. Moreover, user involvement and buy-in were cited as equally important given the need to ensure that those with the greatest knowledge of individual best practices are involved in the design and delivery of the project.


Strong Project Governance


Documenting goals and milestones is critical, says Deltek. For larger, more complex projects, it becomes crucial to have fixed project follow-up procedures that serve to both track satisfactory project progress and identify any deviations from the plan. The recommended way to do so would be by establishing the frequency of steering committee meetings, project management meetings and project team meetings right from the start. Missed milestones aside, I have previously cautioned against "bait and switch" tactics, which you can read more in "Staying on Course After the Project Kick-off."


Well-defined Scope and Base Requirements


A well-defined scope will clearly identify what the project will cover, procedures for change management and communication, as well as the division of project tasking and a general breakdown of deliveries. A well-defined base requirement is used to show the overall goal of the project and outline the reason for the project, which will spare businesses from having to look for "after-completion fixes" should the delivered solution not measure up to expectations or actual needs.


Application Software


I heartily agree with the use of the appropriate application software in order to assist with project management tasks. The sophistication of the tools should be matched against the complexity of the project to determine what tools should be employed, suggests Deltek, who also observed that "management by spreadsheet" is a very risky strategy that is not recommended for complex projects.


Experienced Project Managers


Finally, Deltek was candid about the need for experienced project managers. One of the pitfalls of having an inexperienced project manager is that they become very detail-oriented and may face potential problems when it comes to garnering the trust from stakeholders in the project. This could result in potential issues when attempting to resolve issues where the support and cooperation of multiple parties is required, she wrote.


Do you have any horror stories of projects gone awry due to the above tips not being followed? I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.