Project Management Strategies for Small Teams

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Project management is one of the multiple underrated domains for running a company. Often, business owners and founders feel that project management professionals are of no need, and anyone on the team can easily take up the responsibility. While this scenario works fine during the agency’s start, it becomes essential to focus on project management while the agency starts to grow rapidly.

Project management focuses on all the external factors that can affect the deadline and deliverables of the project. While the project team works vigorously on developing and improving the deliverables, project management makes sure that everyone on the team is working effectively and efficiently. Project management professionals make sure that there are no hurdles during the project. If any, they can engage in solving the problem without hampering the flow of the development team.

 

Consequences of Lack of Project Management

Indeed, the lack of project management strategy can have an impactful effect on the team’s performance. One of the most critical aspects that get affected is the deadline. Unclear tasks, conflicts, scope creeps, etc., can cause project schedule delays. There is no thorough estimate of project activities without any project management strategy.

Another crucial aspect that gets affected is the budget of the project. When there is no set strategy to monitor and allocate the project’s resources, it is often found that the project budget tends to overrun. Calculating accurate costs requires an organized approach and thorough planning. When project managers estimate activity costs, they have to look at ways to save maximum money and stay under the budget.

One consequence that is not immediately apparent is a demotivated project team. Lack of project management can have a diverse impact on the team in the long run. When the projects’ targets are not met, this will provoke demotivation in the team members. The unit can lose focus on the work and not remain effective as before. Also, when the project is going off track, the team thinks that these circumstances may result in layoffs, cancellation of incentives, delayed promotions, or even demotions. So, a project that will fail will demotivate the team members, and they may stop giving 100% to the jobs at hand.

So, provided such diverse consequences, it is inevitable that project management is a crucial and profound topic that needs special attention so that small teams don’t find it too complicated. Without effective project management, small groups can suffer growth and productivity. So, it is best to understand and implement various project management strategies to avoid facing similar problems.

 

Here are the top three project management strategies that have been tried and tested and have shown great success:

 

AGILE

 

Agile is one of the most trusted and widely used project management methodologies. Agile is best served for projects that are iterative and incremental. It’s a process where demands and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customers. Agile manifesto enables IT organizations with different values.

The agile project management methodology has four fundamental values and twelve key principles. Initially, this practice originated for software development, but soon after, it was found effective enough for non-software domains. It has been devoted to non-software products that aim to drive forward with innovation and have a level of apprehension.

 

Pros:

  1. Agile is one of the most flexible approaches for project management. As Agile delivers the project in smaller segments, it always has a more chance for continuous improvement.
  2. Agile focuses on working deliverables, not excellent deliverables, so the product gets to market faster. The product completes the requirements that were defined during a particular iteration.
  3. In Agile methodology, the product team receives the feedback immediately, cutting down unnecessary waiting time and delays.

 

Cons:

  1. Agile does not focus much on documentation, so it can be challenging to find if detailed written materials are required.
  2. Due to the flexible nature of Agile, there can sometimes be a lot of changes and additions to the ongoing project, leading to scope creep and extended deadlines.
  3. In a few of the projects at the start of the software development life cycle, it’s difficult to estimate the actual effort required.

 

 

 

SCRUM

 

Scrum is another widely used project management strategy. Companies often tend to keep switching between Scrum and Agile, depending on the project’s complexity. A collaborative approach is also seen, where Scrum and Agile are used simultaneously on the same project.

Scrum consists of five values: commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect. Its objective is to develop, deliver, and sustain complex products via collaboration, accountability, and iterative progress. Scrum methodology is divided into three broad categories. Here is an in-depth look at each of them:

 

Scrum Team:

  • Product Owner: Represents the Stakeholders.
  • Development Team: Group of specialists who deliver the product.
  • Scrum Master: Ensures the understanding and execution of Scrum are followed.

 

Scrum Events:

  • Sprint: Iterative time boxes in which a goal is accomplished.
  • Sprint Planning: Where the entire Scrum team gets together.
  • Daily Scrum: 15-minute time-boxed meeting held simultaneously, every day of the Sprint.
  • Sprint Review: An informal meeting is held at the end of every Sprint where the Scrum team presents their increment to the stakeholders and discusses feedback.
  • Sprint Retrospective: A meeting where the Scrum team deliberates on the proceedings of the previous Sprint.

 

Scrum Artifacts:

  • Product Backlog: All the requirements needed for a viable product are listed in order of priority.
  • Sprint Backlog: A checklist of the tasks and requirements that need to be achieved during the next Sprint.

 

 

Pros:

 

  1. Everyone has well-defined roles and responsibilities and is well aware of the importance of their tasks.
  2. Time is saved by eliminating the lengthy approvals from multiple stakeholders, and well-defined meetings are conducted to avoid confusion.
  3. Scrum methodology is quite budget-friendly and gives desired results in a short time.

 

Cons:

  1. The biggest con is that chances of project failure are high if individuals aren’t very committed or cooperative.
  2. The framework can thrive only with experienced team members.
  3. Quality is hard to execute until the team goes through an aggressive testing process.

 

WATERFALL

 

The waterfall is the first and traditional project management strategy that has been used for a long time by many small and large organizations. Though it follows a conventional approach, there are still many practical aspects against some projects.

Unlike Agile and Scrum, Waterfall follows a sequential and linear approach. The entire process of managing a project follows a downward direction. It first originated in the construction and manufacturing industries, as many projects in these industries are bound to follow a step-down approach. Later, it was implemented by other sectors, and slowly and gradually, many sectors sensed the lack of flexibility in this approach and switched to either Agile or Scrum.

In the waterfall method, all the prerequisites have to be defined at the beginning of the project. Each phase must be finished before moving towards the next step. Project managers have to ensure that there is no overlapping in subsequent phases.

After the plan is approved, there is little scope to adapt the strategy unless necessary, and changes usually require change requests. The project then flows through the process from requirements gathering, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance.

 

The various phases of Waterfall methodology involve:

  1. System and software requirements
  2. Analysis
  3. Design
  4. Coding
  5. Testing
  6. Operations

 

Pros:

  1. While using waterfall project management, scope creep, and budget overrun become significantly low.
  2. As it follows a top-down approach, the project’s end goal is defined at the start of the project. Also, every phase provides a clearly defined starting point and a conclusion for teams to follow.
  3. The waterfall model’s approach is highly systematic. It emphasizes a clean transfer of information at each step to ensure that the transitions are smooth and effective.

 

Cons:

  1. Making changes to the Waterfall model is extremely difficult, as all the processes are fixed, and making even a minute change can forcefully change multiple aspects of the entire project.
  2. The waterfall model concentrates on the internal processes of the work instead of focusing on the client or end-user who gets affected by the project. Its primary purpose is to create efficiencies within the internal systems so that internal teams can efficiently move through the various phases.
  3. There is no possibility of testing the product in phases, as the entire product gets evaluated after it is completed, which delays testing and eventually any improvements that were needed to be made.

 

So, these were the top three project management methodologies that small teams can adopt for effective project management. Indeed, project management is a crucial part of the company’s success. It helps to set clear goals and deliverables for any project, avoiding missing deadlines and budget overruns, which the client eventually appreciates.

Furthermore, effective project management also helps set clear roles and responsibilities among the team members. Every team member understands their tasks and the time allotted for their completion. This also adds to team bonding and interaction as members interact directly.

So, overall, project management will have diverse positive effects on the company’s functioning and should be adopted as soon as possible to start seeing effective results. The next article will discuss some of the software tools that can prove beneficial for adopting these project management strategies.

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