- Published on Saturday, 28 April 2012 14:07
- Written by Jonathan Story
- Hits: 313
These tips come from Tom Kendrick’s book, 101 Project Management Problems and How to Solve Them: Practical Advice for Handling Real-World Project Challenges.
Although smaller, less complex projects may have simplified and streamlined processes, these four are still needed: planning, team building, establishing minimum processes, and closure.
Because small projects are often similar to ones that have been done before, one way to ensure a fast start is to develop templates for project plans and schedules that can be adapted to use for new projects. If such templates do not currently exist, retain shadow copies as you develop project documents for future use on similar projects.
Small projects often cross functional areas and have few, if any, full-time contributors assigned. Success in such projects means getting the involvement of the project sponsor and key stakeholders during planning, and understanding the reasons they think the project is important.
Building the Team
For projects of this type, with no dedicated, full-time staff, it may be difficult to get reliable commitments. Establish a good working relationship with each contributor and try to find aspects of the project that they might enjoy or see as good learning or career opportunities. Get commitment for the project work from both the contributors and their direct management. Finally, look for opportunities to thank people with informal recognition and formal rewards.
Although processes on small projects can be streamlined, they should not be eliminated entirely. Sometimes, for straightforward projects, change control can be fairly informal, but it is a good idea to have worked out in advance a process to deal with requested changes that happen in the middle of the project. At minimum, there should be basic requirements for requesting and documenting possible changes, and a review process to which everyone has agreed to in advance. Identify someone, who is ideally you, who has the authority to say “no”.
On small projects where you might not have much authority, if you cannot resolve difficulties on your own, do not delay in getting the project sponsor or other stakeholder involved to get things unstuck. Unless dealt with promptly, problems can quickly lead to project slippage.
As for reporting, it may be minimal on simple projects, but plan for weekly status collection and reporting, at minimum, and there should be periodic short team meetings through the project.
Unless the deliverables are complex, projects are usually easy to close. Consider doing a “pre-close” with key stakeholders as a project nears completion to make sure that the initial requirements are still relevant and that there will be no surprises. Put effort into ensuring that the project sign-off is a non-event.
Even for small projects, there should be a quick assessment of lessons learned and of things that went well and things that need improvement. Look at what adjustments are needed to the template documents that could be applied to future similar projects. Finally, thank contributors and end the project with a short final status report.