There are a large number of different solutions for different industries and companies out there that will help any business to finish any project. There is one little thing though… they are not free, and they are not cheap. Most are geared towards big projects and require specific resources to be dedicated to run them. There are some that are not as complex and fairly simple to use, except there is always something missing. Partially because it was underdeveloped and partially because it was meant to do just one thing. And in most cases, the tools which are available are not what you need.
When I started with my company, there were only about 10 workers including myself. Today the company has expanded to three different locations and close to 100 full time employees. As the company was growing I noticed an interesting trend. Most of the projects that we’ve completed over the years were managed by the seat of our pants. Even when I thought we had plan, in the end I discovered that most of the decisions were done on the fly regardless of what the original plan was.
There are different factors that contributed to this way of operations. Most of the projects did not have a clear goal. We had an idea of what we wanted to have in the end and worked it out along the way while shaping the final objective based on the available resources and conditions that were present at the time. A lot of decisions had to be made quickly and for some of these projects the research was going to take more than the execution. There were other constraints that most small businesses encounter: lack of resources, capital, knowledge, experience and of course time.
In the end some projects worked and others failed. Those that worked served as a foundation for new projects. Those that failed served as lessons learned and what not to do scenarios. The beauty of this approach was that the costs for most of these undertakings was minimal and even though some failed the experience gained was far more valuable. As the company grew, the need for more thought out projects also grew. We started to come up with regulations and SOPs and I noticed that we used to be able to get things done a lot quicker in the past. The pace of change has slowed down. The business is still growing, and I have been pondering a few questions. Looking back, would the company been better off by utilizing standard project management tools like planning, budgeting, and reporting? Is this beginning of an end for our growth? Can the company maintain its decisions on the fly approach while using standard project management approach? Can the two coexist?