I often hear that it’s too expensive, bothersome or simply pointless to introduce project management into small companies.
Owning a small company myself, I know that is categorically not true. When you have limited time, limited resources and above all limited funding, you absolutely need to be confident that you are investing them in the right initiatives.
OK, I don’t call everything that I do in my company a ‘project’ because it’s just what I do when I turn up to work. But I do have a plan, a task list, goals and – new this year in my growing firm – a colleague who uses the same project management software as I do so that we stay on the same page.
So I was delighted to get a copy of Gren Gale’s Project Management for SME’s.
The premise of the book is good. Gren writes:
To deliver a high-quality product to time and budget requires leadership, skill and – as importantly – demands that your whole business is set up to support delivery.
There is a lot of good common sense advice: the kind that isn’t common everywhere such as why you should let your team set estimates (because if you don’t, they’ll end up not believing the schedule).
The book is organised to take you through the project life cycle. Each phase is a chapter starting with inputs, actions and outputs. Once you’ve got through the life cycle, Gren covers governance and soft skills.
At the end of the book are helpful document layouts and links to free online versions, which makes it easy to put any of this advice into practice and get started quickly – important factors for small businesses making the decision to move to a formal project management approach.
There are recommendations for software that work well for small firms, which might end up dating the book in the future. Overall, it’s angled towards service and client organisations: the kind of small businesses that run as consultancies or agencies and important points related to what it is like to work in those businesses are called out when it’s relevant.
There are some interesting stories shared that really point to the fact that the author knows his stuff. He’s definitely been there and done that and knows what works in real life.
Having said that, the book isn’t without problems. PMP, for example, is not a methodology but it’s referenced as one quite early on. I know that many PMI members and others would probably just use ‘PMP’ as shorthand for ‘the way PMI recommends projects are run using the PMBOK® Guide as a reference’ but it might confuse someone else who is newer to this whole project management thing.
Equally, I missed the references. The CHAOS report is cited but there is no reference to which year. The original report is now extremely old and not something that is worth citing any longer (in my opinion) as a reference to how things are today. But there have been other CHAOS studies. It’s not clear which one Gren is referring to, which is a shame.
It’s a slim book, easy to read, and convincingly makes the case for why project management should be adopted by small and medium-sized businesses. There’s a clear return on investment, and this book will help you make the case to your colleagues.