Small business owners need to do it all, from shifting roles to juggling responsibilities. They need to keep account of every single dollar and make sure that the business is operating smoothly. Often, they struggle to do more with less. It is therefore no surprize that more and more small business owners are opting for project management tools to become more efficient, competitive and profitable.
Now the question remains: What kind of project management features do small businesses look for and how they select a solution?
The definition of “project management” tools varies widely. No two businesses are same; the project management needs of small businesses substantially depend on their projects, their project-management style and their team. However, the bottom lines for all businesses remain same. These include:
- Increased collaboration
- Higher team morale
- Improved customer satisfaction, and
- Better products quality
This is where small businesses need agile project management solutions that offers everything mentioned above along with some additional benefits to help entrepreneurs stay ahead of the curve. In fact, for a small business owners an agile project management software is often more beneficial than the traditional tools. For example, traditional project management tools are not very functional for small projects, although they have their own benefits for larger projects.
Traditional project management has a far less flexible approach and usually comes with large overheads. As a result, they are hardly beneficial for small businesses that cannot afford to spend a lot of time in planning.
Why Agile Project Management
There are many reasons why businesses are opting for project management, including
- Better Collaboration: Today, more and more small businesses are relying on remote teams, freelancers and contract workers. They contribute key skills to the team as a whole while offering the advantage of limited overhead costs. But it is essential for such workers to collaborate and connect with their co-workers and manage work better. This calls for a project management tool that everyone can access and use, irrespective of their location.
- More Organized Workplace: Small businesses are turning to a project management solution in order to improve their accuracy and efficiency. Proper project management helps them maintain a central workspace to avoid issues like misplaced documents, scattered and inconsistent communication and also takes the guesswork out the project as teams can better collaborate and communicate, sharing their responsibilities and work progress. They now realize that without a project management solution in place quality of the product often suffers and it takes longer time to complete tasks than necessary as teams fail to stay focused and coordinate efforts.
- Outgrowing Old Methods: A large number of small business owners are using manual methods to track everything because traditional project management usually fails to provide the flexibility and agility, which are essential for smaller projects. Small entrepreneurs however are realizing that they need something more sophisticated than email and spreadsheets to keep a track of their projects. Agile project management comes across as the right solution that provides flexibility as well as eliminates the risk of human error and lack of visibility across multiple team members and projects that are commonly associated with manual methods.
But the business climate today is dynamic and complex. Requirements are changing and demands are increasing. Apart from the pressure of fast turnaround demands, small businesses also face the challenges posed by tight budgets and fewer resources. It is therefore essential for them to optimize every aspect of business, especially project management.
Unfortunately, traditional project management fails to meet the dynamic challenges faced by small businesses as they are usually task-driven and predictive. On the other hand, agile project management solutions operate well in a more adaptive and more fluid environment. Being a highly incremental and iterative process, agile project management facilitates constant communication between the project team and end user, making them ideal for:
- Smaller and cross-functional teams
- Projects/businesses that need very flexible environment; something can encourage change instead of being fixated on following a plan
- Businesses that need to provide quick delivery
- Businesses that need interactive project management platform to facilitate direct involvement of cross-teams, stakeholders and end-users
Differences Between Traditional & Agile Project Management
Traditional project management focuses on processes and tools and also expect limited changes in the process. In addition, it requires comprehensive documentation. The emphasis is on the contract negotiation and therefore strictly follows tasks delineated in the contract. With a traditional project management solution in place, businesses work the plan and follow it to the end.
Agile project management solution, on the other hand focuses on interaction and team communication. The priority lies on developing the product. It is therefore obvious that such solutions feature flexibility and are responsive to change. They emphasize the importance of end-users (customers) and encourage daily communication for better project team collaboration.
Adopting Agile Project Management Framework
To adopt an agile project management solution, businesses need to take an iterative approach when introducing the framework within the organization.
To begin with, businesses need to first become familiar with the framework before launching the system. This is especially applicable for senior managers, key executives, and project managers. Additionally, they need to access the readiness of the organization. For these, it is important to identify and evaluate different organizational forces that can either help or hinder the company’s transition to agile project management. To do so, business owners need to determine:
- How much their organization values creativity and innovation over stability
- Their ability to make independent decisions related to product/project without consulting the end-users (clients)
- Their ability to allocate dedicated, full time resources to a project
- Their ability to understand and embrace various approaches to measuring and documenting project progress
Remember that agile approaches are ideal for small businesses that value innovation. The focus is on the end-result rather than on the standard project management procedures. To adopt such a framework, businesses need to ensure that their employees are able to make independent decisions and are ready to collaborate and work as a part of the group.
The decision to adopt such a solution, however, depends primarily on your requirements. If you want a solution that enhances your product quality and also allow external stakeholders to get in and know what’s happening, agile is the answer.