Tips for Midmarket Project Management: What Is Your Company Working On?
Successfully managing multiple projects plays a key role in the growth of any business, and midmarket companies aren't any different. Your business is operating with multiple employees, departments and possibly locations across the country or even the globe, and project management is a vital part of that — even though it can be a challenge. Understanding the various projects your company is working on, being aware of red flags and implementing safeguards to ensure all work meets your standards of excellence are often effective business improvement methods for midmarket companies.
Why You Need to Understand Your Company's Projects
Though project managers may take the lead, company executives need to know what's going on for several reasons:
- Having a high-level strategic overview of all your company's projects may uncover strategic opportunities and innovative cross-project solutions that would otherwise be missed.
- Regular updates help you learn which projects are on track, delayed and hitting roadblocks, and being familiar with them all may allow you to see innovative solutions. Can the answer to one project's problem be adapted and applied to another project with similar issues?
- Being able to anticipate potential resource conflicts between planned projects is more important than many leaders realize. If money and manpower are allocated to one project, will another fall short on funding and human resources?
- It gives you an idea of how well your current project management systems suit your business, which is a critical aspect of supporting innovation in the middle market. Midmarket companies with clear and well-developed formal processes, tracking tools to measure innovation and attention from senior management tend to be the most innovative and fastest growing, according to a recent NCMM report.
Challenges to Middle Market Project Management
As the number of company projects increases, managing tasks becomes more challenging in three particular areas:
- Scalability. A larger business means accommodating larger projects, more concurrent projects and projects in more than one location. Human, technological and capital resources must stretch, meaning resource conflicts may make it difficult to deliver results on time and on budget. Overall, it can be tough to scale fast enough to meet demand.
- Communication. Teams can run into problems even when all members occupy the same office, and employees in different cities, states, time zones and countries face even greater communication challenges. Yet, as Rob Carey pointed out in a previous NCMM article on effective multiple-office management, having teleconferencing and a robust companywide project management system greatly help in this area.
- Technology. Difficulties here include stretching an established system to suit expanded company needs, or investing in enterprise software that comes with more functionality (and a higher price tag) than you currently need.
Safeguarding Your Standards of Excellence
When a company takes on multiple concurrent projects, it's important to introduce a process for ensuring each project meets established standards of excellence. Is each stage of the project aligned with the company's core value proposition or mission statement? How well does it align with the TS 16949, ISO level or Six Sigma program in which your company participates? You should include clear directives in the project guidelines and set definitions of success for each project stage, including benchmarks, budgets and deadlines.
Once a project has been completed, consider sitting in on the debrief. This will give you a summary of what did and didn't go well and reveal processes that could be changed to improve efficiency and quality in future projects.
Keeping an eye on your company projects lets you measure what's going on in real time, and can point to opportunities for innovation. Monitoring also brings to light any potential problems and shows how well your current technology supports your whole company. This allows leaders to identify money or time-saving areas by comparing successes while also assessing how well the project meets your standards.
What's your biggest project management challenge? How do your challenges differ from those affecting small businesses or enterprise companies? Share your thoughts by commenting below.
Sarita Harbour is an NCMM contributor and freelance business-to-business writer, blogger and ghostwriter. Her bylined work appears online at sites such as Forbes, Fox News, Business News Daily and CBC. Follow her on Twitter or visit her website.