How to Manage Small Projects

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Project Management is the science and art of managing a project, regardless of what the project is and how big or small it is. It can even be a personal project like a wedding. The difference is that a project is not business as usual, it is something that happens once, is temporary and is very specific. Simply put a project has a beginning and an end, it consumes resources and it has a funding limit.

Project management is a useful skill to have and is widely sought after across industries. There are certifications in Project Management which requires you to study a course and take an exam, however unless you want to become a Project Management Professional, learning the basics from this podcast will help you go a long way.

There are five essential stages in any project which are:

  • Definition
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Control
  • Closure

In this podcast we are going to talk about how you can manage small projects:

  • Read a book on basic project management
  • Understand the triple constraints of every project
  • Ensure your sponsor signs off on your project plan
  • Physically block of time each day to work on your project
  • Undertake a risk analysis (and manage your risks)
  • Beware of scope cree
  1. Read a book on basic project management

One of the best ways to understand what project management is to read a basic book on project management. There are many options available; however a few to check out include Simple Project Management – The book; An Introduction to Project Management, 2nd Edition by Kathy Schwalbe; Successful Project Management, 4th Edition by Jack Gido & James Clements (Book reviews by R. Max Wideman).

2. Understand the triple constraints of every project

For every project that you undertake there are three constraints that need to be dealt with. These three constraints are quality or scope, cost or resources and schedule or time. These three elements need to be in tandem with one another and if one of them is restricted or expanded then the other two will also need to be extended or reduced in some way. The effective balancing of these resources is what results in a successful project.

3. Ensure your sponsor signs off on your project plan

Every project will have a project sponsor whose duties include:

  • Keeping the project on track
  • Being available for consultations
  • Ensuring the project is in line with the organisation’s goals
  • Providing and locating resources for the project
  • Providing and locating funding for the project
  • Sign off on the project plan to ensure that it is viable and strategically aligned with what the organisation wants.

4. Physically block of time each day to work on your project

A project is something that takes time and is a long term commitment. Make sure that you spend some time each day working on your project and this should become a part of your daily schedule. When you do some work each and every day it makes it easier for you to achieve what you need to..

5. Undertake a risk analysis (and manage your risks)

When beginning a project it is always wise to conduct a risk analysis before you begin working on something. The first thing to do is to identify potential threats to the project these may be: human, operational, reputational, procedural, project, financial, technical, natural, and political and others. Next is to estimate the likelihood of this threat occurring and then manage around these risks. This can be done in three ways:

–          By using existing assets

–          By planning for contingencies

–          By investing in new resources

6. Beware of scope creep

People, time and money need to be managed in addition to the fourth element is the most important which is the project scope. The project scope is a definition of what the job needs to be accomplishing along with the budget of time and money that is needed to achieve these objectives. If there is any changes to the scope it needs to reflect in the change to the budget as well. Scope creep is what happens when the scope of the project increases as the project progresses, it is important for you to keep a check on the fact that the scope does not keep increasing and the project does not keep stretching.