Project management practices have long been used in large, structured organizations, but this discipline is valuable to entrepreneurs as well.
Entrepreneurs are great at generating ideas and creating a vision to see their great idea brought to life. But many entrepreneurs, in their quest to complete their vision and bring their ideas to reality, feel overwhelmed or stuck when faced with the sprawling complexity of things to do to get their business running to match their vision: working with developers, making sure timelines and commitments are met, managing scope, and all the small tasks that creep up daily. It’s easy to get distracted and want to move on to something else, rather than completing this vision. If you can relate to this scenario – frustration over too many tasks, disorganization, and uncertainty around which way to go next – you may benefit from adopting project management practices to help get your arms around the chaos and bring some order to your life and your effort.
1. Bring Order
Project management practices call for planning, executing and controlling your project implementation. Whether you use a standard waterfall approach (create a plan for all your activities and execute the plan) or an iterative agile approach (identifying which are the most important elements to work on first, and focusing only on completing those), a formal plan helps ensure that everything is addressed and there are no surprises at the time of deployment. You can have more peace of mind knowing that you have identified what needs to be done and that you are addressing those items.
2. Everyone working from the same plan
When you create a plan and share it with your team – even if your team is you and one developer – you will all be working from the same plan. You will have clearly identified tasks, ownership, and delivery dates. No more confusion about who is working on what, or what needs to be done next. Rather, you’ll know what needs to be delivered, and by what date.
3. Identify the Right Work
By clearly identifying what needs to be done, and by whom, you will ensure that you are working on the right things at the right time, and not “spinning your wheels” or procrastinating with easy distractions (maybe even the next exciting new idea). You will be able to clearly communicate with your team on what everyone is supposed to be doing, with no uncertainty. Additionally, if there are questions or concerns, having a clearly laid plan will allow team members to identify them and raise questions. Communication becomes easier and more effective, with less ambiguity about what is to be done.
4. Identifying Issues / Risks
Once you have identified tasks, owners, durations, dependencies, milestones, etc., it becomes easier to identify potential issues and risks. These will arise, but having them on your radar allows you to be better prepared to deal with them. You can speak to how they will impact your plan, now that you have one, and how you will address issues and adjust.
Project management has long been recognized as valuable in the corporate world for executing work of various sizes and scope. There is a reason for this. You can increase your chance of success and likelihood that you’ll reach your target if you and your team have a clear roadmap and are all marching on a clear path to your destination.