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Friendly software tools for small and medium sized companies

How to do Project Management and Planning Like a Pro

The task of project management and planning for your small business has been placed on your shoulders, and you are eager to start but unsure of what to do next.  There are lots of certifications, and online tutorials for project management and planning but nothing really comprehensive for someone fresh on the block.  This guide will get you up and running as a project management and planning expert, regardless of your experience in project management from before. 

Project Management and Planning using the Rule of Three Threes
We break it down to our little rule of three, three, and three.  There are three next steps to take as a fresh project manager.  There are also three pitfalls to avoid when starting out project management and planning.  Finally there are three essential tools in every project manager's toolkit that will help make the entire project management and planning effort run smoothly.

3 Next Steps in Project Management and Planning
Starting on a fresh project, complete these three things and the project will be in good shape at the get-go.
1.  Identify Who Wins
Who is interested in the project completing?  Who decides when the result of the project is good enough?
2.  Draw Your Boundaries
What exactly do people expect the project to deliver.  Specifically, get these answers from the parties identified in step 1.
3.  Formalize How the Project May Change
For a project management and planning effort to remain OTOBOS (on time, on budget, on scope), it is very important that nothing done in step 2 changes.  But the fact is that as the project continues, it will change and new things will be added to your already long list of things to do.  As long as there is a little formality about this process and the people requesting the changes on the project are aware that the initial charter for the project is being changed, fewer feathers will ruffle if these changes make you exceed the project budget, time, or if you do not deliver the entire scope.

3 Pitfalls to Avoid in Project Management and Planning
1.  Under Documenting
If major decisions are not recorded, if long meetings are not summarized in notes, then longer projects can suffer a blame game.   On the chance that the project does not deliver as expected (and many don't), it is very helpful to have documents to trace how the project failed. 
2.  Over Documenting
Some teams document EVERYTHING.  Over documenting by attempting to record minor decisions and events in the project can lead to (1) wasted time maintaining useless documentation, and (2) a lower team morale due to the extra weight of reading and writing the documents while working on the core project.
3.  Lack of Communication
Make sure communication channels are open and used amongst the team and with the client of the project.  The team must communicate to catch issues earlier as they arise.  The client's expectations must be managed throughout the project so when the project finally delivers the client knows what to expect.  Surprises are fun, but reliability and communication win satisfied clients.

3 Essential Project Management and Planning Tools
1.  Web Based Project Management Software
Here is a two minute cartoon on why this is necessary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DA6DHfiDvE
2.  Web Based Screen Sharing Software
When discussing an issue on the project with the team, showing the issue can save lots of breath and time.  Use a tool like Adobe's ConnectNow to share your screen with the team.
3.  Web Based Issue Tracking
Project Management Software is great for deciding the overall schedule, but development issues must still be tracked through a Open->Confirm->Resolve->Close lifecycle.  Paradigm PoP hosts a flavor of the Mantis Bug tracker as our PoP Tracker service (http://www.paradigmpop.com/pop-tracker).

Project management and planning may seem like a mountain to take on, but remembering a few key ideas can make that job a great deal easier.  Follow this Rule of Three Threes and you will soon be a successful professional at project management and planning!

I appreciate with you The task of project management and planning for your small business has been placed on your shoulders, and you are eager to start but unsure of what to do next. There are lots of certifications, and online tutorials for project management and planning but nothing really comprehensive for someone fresh on the block...

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