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Topics: IT Project Management, PMO, Scrum
What are the most pressing problems of small business in project management?


I am currently researching on project management problems for small businesses. Your inputs would greatly help me.

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Is not about the business size. Is about the business life cycle. If you are in the starup phase foget about it to use some kind of formal process to follow. Why? Because the business focus is to growth by making money so nobody will follow a formal process. That is the key: be aware of the business life cycle you are today.

Agree with Sergio.

Small companies are somehow reticent in implementing a standard approach to project management because they feel that it does not add immediate value / positive cash flow.

Justo to clarify. I am not saying that project management does not work in small companies. What I tried to say is that project management can be implemented into any type and size of company BUT it depends on the company life cycle phase where the company is right now. On the other side, to add something more, project management can be always used the point is: 1-which way to follow (PMI, PRINCE2, IPMA, GPM, etc) 2-the degree of "formality".

I think that the role of project management in small business depends on two primary considerations (and probably a lot more secondary considerations):
1. What do you mean by project management?
2. For what purpose do you want to use project management in your small business?

For example, one can use a project management approach in a consultancy:
Initiate - engage, contract, mandate, etc
Planning - requirements assessment
Delivery - develop solution/product
Close - assess outcomes, etc..

Management aspects such as risk assessment, progress tracking, etc can also play a role in quality assurance, customer feedback, etc.

I have used this approach to formalise my coaching engagements with corporate clients.

The same applies to a software development business, for example, using project (or development) life cycles.

In other words, the business model can benefit greatly if it is 'projectised'. Some project controls can be developed to reduce risk, manage overruns and improve the client experience.

There are some features of project management, however, that apply better in large corporate organisations than in small companies. For example, control administration is often expanded in large corporates to satisfy a broad array of stakeholders. The overhead attached to such administration might be too costly or burdensome for a small business.

I think in a smaller firm one of the biggest issues is deciding which processes are going to provide the most advantageous benefit realizations. While a larger firm can include more firm processes, procedures, and oversight, a smaller one tends to focus on continued improvements in these areas and can typically not justify the time commitments required to implement/study/research the benefits of a larger program. Many smaller firms tend to take the seller/doer approach and tend to put less emphasis on the traditional project management processes.

I oversee a small non-profit part-time, we were gearing up for a large fundraiser 6 months prior to the event date, until six weeks prior to the event nothing had been done except securing the facility and the guest speakers. Nothing else in our long list of WBS got tocuhed, we had a full-time Operations director who was going in circles who was fully dedicated to this, very low project performance was realized, minimal pre-event ticket sales. Four weeks before the event, I recruited a part time volunteer PM to hold daily evening scrum calls for two weeks prior to the event, we followed rigourous simple PM processes (daily touch point for 30 min on the phone + WBS update + blocker review + plans/goals for tomorrow + how did we do on today's goals + how far are we are from our final deliverable), and were able to meet most of our goals for the event, and performance of the team boosted immediately. This is one example where applying basic simple PM process returned immediate return on value and provided growth. The main reason the team shys away from following PM processes is the perception that being a small shop with 2 staffers the process will add unneeded overhead. I disagree with that big time, the smaller the shop the more the need for process, that is agile and nimble. Small shops do not have the luxury to have waste. When you have a staff of 2-3 FTEs, an inefficiency with one area could be devastating to the small organization, unlike bigger ones which can offset losses or less than optimum performance through other work streams. So in summary the main reasons in my opinion we have not applied simple yet effective processes (1) incorrect percpetions about overheasd and burdenand the (2) ability to water down the process to the size of the organization to provide optimum value and ROI and (3) lastly the affordability of hiring a PM or someone who has PM skills to uphold the governance.

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