Project managers working in large corporations will have access to a wide range of articles and resources that can help them in their work. There are many articles published each month, quarter, and year. Authors and their online critics debate the roles of project managers, business analysts, stakeholders, and others. The discussions are peppered by a wide range of terms and concepts, including PMBOK, Six Sigma, PMBOK and Agile. The reading list for project managers in smaller companies is very limited. A small company project manager is usually a one-man show. Although he may use a variety of great methods, he doesn’t have the time to learn acronyms. This person’s only black belt holds his pants and phone holster.
Flickr photo by cisc1970
Smaller businesses operate in a different environment than those described in glossy business magazines. In such organizations, the project manager is the project coordinator, business analyst and program manager. She creates the scope statement, negotiates and estimates the cost with stakeholders, schedules the work and ensures smooth execution. She negotiates with stakeholders any changes and asks for final payment at project’s end.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that this person manages multiple projects simultaneously.
It’s an exciting job to manage a small business project. The demands can be overwhelming. The environment is challenging and tests project managers’ ability to apply project management methods in an organization that may not have one. These challenges can also be dynamic and change with the company. One veteran said that if the existing staff all use the same methods of project completion, then we can add staff quickly. She will need to find or adapt ways to work for both old and new staff while also providing support for the new people if she wants to be successful.
These challenges have their rewards. Project managers are responsible for their projects. One project manager, a transplant from a large company, said, “In a small shop you are the front line.” You have all the plans and details. Because you need to, you learn every detail. There is no one else who can follow up on milestones. Your team is the only delegation. ?
Project managers are responsible for setting the methodology in large and small companies. The difference is that all tools seem to be focused on the larger, more structured, and more resource-rich environment. For example, the PMBOK is a rich source of information. These tools should be used by small project managers. They must adapt the information to their unique business environment. This is a huge challenge but can bring great rewards. Change process is a good place to start when adapting. Small businesses often miss out on opportunities to increase project revenue or protect (or improve) margins due to a lack of a proper change process. If one is not already in place, create one. It doesn’t have to be complicated but it must capture scope changes in ways that support a business case to adjust the budget. Consistent communication is the key to enforcement.
Project managers must also learn and teach team-building methods. Small companies don’t have formal training programs. The project manager is responsible for setting the guidelines for team functioning. A project team can only contain a handful of people. Each member of a project team is a specialist, and they all know their role. They can address scheduling milestones directly. They can agree to them. The project manager can help add value by explaining how each member’s role impacts the overall project. The project manager cannot assume that all the members of the team are aware of each other’s activities and how they affect the overall project. She cannot rely solely on the “high-ceremony”,? High