I’m of the opinion that it’s actually harder to manage smaller projects, in terms of what it takes to accomplish your goals. It might take less time since the project is smaller, but you will often have to put in the work required no matter how small the project is if you want to get good results. Some of the most surprising mistakes when managing small projects are detailed here along with some tips on how to prevent them.
Not choosing the Right Project Management System
Even with small projects it’s important to have and use a good project management system, it doesn’t matter if it’s an old-fashioned system using notebooks, Excel files, or your computer filing system. The other way is to invest in a good online, cloud-based project management system like Basecamp.com which is the most popular amongst web developers.
Pro Tip: Use Basecamp to assign different parts of the project to the right team members. Or if you’re doing it solo, assign tasks to yourself so you can keep on track.
Underestimating the Time Commitment Involved
Sometimes it’s really easy to not realize how long a smaller project will take, even if a project is small it still has certain needs that need to be met and you may still encounter issues that will take time to solve. If you don’t make a good list of things to do, and devote the right resources to it, it’s easy to overlook things in a small project.
Pro Tip: Start every project with the expected deliverable and due date, then work your way back, adding tasks in your calendar that need to be completed in the right order to ensure successful completion of the project and build in a little contingency for anything unexpected you might encounter.
Not Outsourcing the Right Things to the Right People
If you outsource, sometimes a smaller project gets overlooked because you think you will have time to do it yourself, then you forget about it and end up working overtime and without sleep to get done on time. Instead, outsource the right tasks to the right people on your team.
Pro Tip: Your service providers will appreciate being assigned smaller tasks along with the ongoing longer tasks that you have for them to do. If you manage your team so that no one person is doing all of any one task, you can ensure success.
Forgetting to Get Customer Feedback
Smaller projects like short reports, eBooks and even a blog post series need the same feedback that the other larger-scale ones needs. You could be going down a rabbit hole without realizing it. Feedback keeps you on the right track and you should build it in to all projects.
Pro Tip: Use software like SurveyMonkey.com to get the opinion of your audience on blog post topics, titles, product names, subjects and prices.
Ignoring Scope Creep
This is something that especially can happen to service providers. A project starts out small such as a five-page blog site, that suddenly turns into a full-fledged e-commerce website with a shopping cart. Not charging for all your time can be a business killer and can mean you work for very little, so ensure your scope of works is watertight and then stick to it, anything not in the scope can then be flagged as a variation to contract and a cost given, requiring customer approval before you proceed.
Pro Tip: Always have a contract with a scope of works and refer to it as new things are added to change the price.
Poor Expectation Management
If you over sell everything from the start, you’ll end up having trouble with managing expectations. Keep customers on the same page as you by being up-front about what is possible, is not possible, or is possible with more money… this is especially true of clients wanting a new website so they can increase turnover by x amount, whereas the budget they have only allows partial delivery.
Pro Tip: Under promise and over deliver, it works every time.
Poor Team Management
If you have a team of people who help you with various projects, be sure to get to know them well enough to know what they like to do, how they need to consume information and directions, and ensure that you’re paying them enough and to your agreed payment schedule.
Pro Tip: Create contracts with all your service providers and have an open-door policy for reworking contracts.
Forgetting the Importance of Communication
Communication among the team, with the clients, and with everyone needs to be done in an organized manner. Meetings are overrated and can actually cloud communication. Find a way to communicate with everyone involved.
Pro Tip: Use a project management system, standard operating procedures, and contracts to keep it all together.
Managing small projects takes work just like managing larger projects, there are small details that can easily be overlooked if you don’t take it seriously and that is the main problem with smaller projects. Every project is important enough to pay attention to the small details, so ensure you tick all of the boxes in your checklists and small project, project management will become a breeze.