“Doing more, with less” is a phrase most small business owners can relate to. This phrase refers to reaching goals and standards with reduced or limited resources compared to other organizations. This limitation of resources creates obstacles in various aspects in an organization, particularly project management. Having firsthand experience in a small business for the past 10 years I can attest to the phrase “doing more, with less”. Small businesses face many challenges, but by utilizing the following tools effective project management can still be delivered
Maintaining a schedule is important in all businesses, particularly small businesses. Many projects in a small business context are limited in time and resources but also need to meet a high standard. As a result, utilization of PERT or Gantt charts can effectively manage the progress of a particular project. I have personally have not used these charts in my small business, but understand the benefit in doing so. By having a Work Breakdown Structure, each project can have more specific deliverables and evaluation of these deliverables is more easily done.
“Doing more, with less” is often times speaking to financial resource limitations. In a small business setting, financial resources are almost always a challenge. There are various programs and software used in the business world to track costs, but in my organization we utilize a budget system. The budget allows us to see what we estimated for a project and what we have paid for that project. By comparing the estimated and actual cost we can determine if we are on track to meet the budget for a given project or if we need to re-evaluate the estimations and/or find other cost effective ways to meet the budget.
Controlling costs and scheduling is pivotal to successful project management. For example, if you do not control employees who are purchasing products for the project or you do not have control measures in place for scheduling then there will be a greater variation from the mean timeline and budget you have set forth to begin with. Generally, this issue has not been a problem in my organization particularly because I have been solely in charge of developing projects, estimating costs, scheduling, and carrying out the projects. This article sheds light on the areas of improvement that my small business can achieve.
Effective communication and developing a work culture where collaboration is valued and sought after is an important aspect for evaluations. Individuals must understand that their input is valued and there will not be blame or punishment for voicing their opinions. This environment is conducive to learning from previous projects and as a result improves project management processes for future projects.
I aim to further develop and improve on my project management by utilizing the tools discussed above. As a result I will be more effective at “doing more, with less”. Have you had a time in your organization or life where you had to “do more, with less?”
Markgraf, B. (n.d.). Effective Project Management in the Small Business Organization. Retrieved August 10, 2015, from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/effective-project-management-small-business-organization-41274.html
6 thoughts on ““Doing more, with less””
I think this is a really interesting angle on project management. Textbook examples give high-level solutions – start a PMO! use this enterprise software solution! – but many are unrealistic examples for small businesses to follow.
Your explanation of using a budget system and company culture hits on key points that must be addressed if more formal PM solutions are not available. It ultimately comes down to questions of “what data do we have to use?” (budgets, perhaps forecasts, previous experiences) and how can “we utilize our resources best?” (who is knowledgeable, where can we find more info, etc). The benefit, of course, is that data between finance, strategy, operations, and other departments can flow much better in a small organization. Especially if it’s a handful of people!
In terms of your question, I’ve had scenarios like this in my department. We have strong support in terms of financial resources, but staffing can be a challenge. We’ve often run into project issues where the resources required are larger than our staff available, which ends up constraining the entire project scope. Thankfully, we share a lot of commonality with the key points you addressed (culture, share of information, clear budgets), which helps to give direction to our bootstraps mentality of “how can we get this done, in spite of what we’re missing?”
I do not have any experience in project management, but I can imagine some of the limitations to resources for smaller businesses. However, I think for small businesses it is worth the investment and have a dedicated PM. I believe that a lot of businesses believe that existing employees are able to take on the roll of a PM but it is most effective, efficient, and beneficial to the business to have a experience PM. Although it may add to the overhead and may require an additional expense at first, in the long run this can help keep projects within scope and within budget, avoiding any unnecessary costs,
Although I have not been a lead on a project within my company, I do see the topic come up very frequently. I think that many organizations, regardless of size, want to complete projects on a smaller budget, expecting PMs to stretch their resources to the maximum. I think your approach is on par with many others in your position. Taking the tools and foundation we learned in class will definitely help improve on your projects going forward.
A suggestion to you would be to join some of the PM associations to help share ideas and network with other professionals. Learning from others and staying open to new suggestions and methods can definitely improve and shape your PM process.
Interesting post! Having an experience with small business (owner of a small animation firm), I completely agree with the phrase “Doing more, with less”. The resources are always limited for small businesses and it is critical for them to be effective in order to grow quickly. The tools mentioned in the article are excellent, especially the cost and control part. Based on my experience with a small animation firm, cost control was always the issue for us because we always had less budget for the projects. If we go above the budget, we lose money. Looking from small business perspective managing cost and controlling it is always challenging and it is important for them to use good tools to be effective.
Great post! I think that the thinking that is required for the small business can also translate intot e thought process of larger organizations. If in the process of completing a task, or a sub-project, the thought process of doing more with less exists, you can stand out among your peers as the team member that is fiscaly sound and more efficient. These are always positives that will help someone move up the corporate ladder.
This is an interesting post and a number of people have brought up good points. I think about the comment one of our classmate made that talked about how they bid on every piece of business out there without a focus on could they really handle the business? Did they want the business? How profitable would it be? Those types of things and maybe that was a direct result of trying to do more with less. In a lot of situations, allocating resources – whether human or financial – in the right way can improve processes and efficiencies immensely.
This is a pretty interesting way of looking at the business. I can also relate that “Doing more, with less” also applies to big corporations and not only the small businesses. Many corporations are trying to cut costs but also trying to maximize their profits by doing more (at a lower cost). I strongly believe that every Project Manager should incorporate this idea of “Doing more, with less”, I think this might work in every project. By having a work breakdown structure PM can easily identify areas where unnecessary things could be transformed into more productive way of doing things.