If you run a service-based business, you may think of prospecting and “delivery” as two entirely separate things. Actually, the two go hand-in-hand. Not only that, they actually complement each other. The more you can integrate prospecting for customers with the “delivery” of your company’s services, the better. The only way to achieve such an integrated approach, though, is via organized and thoughtful operations - which are often easier said than done. Thankfully, there are some effective project management principles that your service-based business can implement.
Addressing important questions with your client at the beginning of the project.
Sketching out the project’s scope, and specifically defining its goals.
Clearly communicating team roles, expectations, and objectives.
Continuously Monitoring progress and identify roadblocks.
Making sure all deliverables have been met and finalize the project.
1. Asking Important Questions
At the beginning of every internal project, you need to take the time to ask important questions. This means executives and possibly other team members should openly discuss high-level questions like:
What problem is this project solving?
How much will it cost?
How long will it take?
Do we really need this?
As a business owner, you have to be hard on yourself. If you fail to ask these questions yourself, you must empower your subordinates to ask them. Questions like, “Do we really need this?” Are often better off coming from the top. But, if not from the top, employees and coworkers should feel confident to raise such questions with fear of getting ostracized.
When it comes to determining the costs of a project, you must try to factor in the amount of time a new project will take away from potentially doing other things. While trying new things is the only recipe for groundbreaking success, it’s important to remember that everything comes with costs. If you are spending your time and energy on X, that may mean you are unable to do Y. Sometimes that is okay, and others it isn’t. The point is that you need to be aware of how and where you are spending the majority of your and your company’s resources.
2. Project Scope and Goals
After you determine that yes, you should indeed move forward on a project, the next of project management principles is determining scope and goals. One problem with taking on new projects is something called “scope-creep.” What this means is that, while you may start by addressing a small problem, you may end up biting off more than you can chew. To avoid things getting out-of-hand, the best thing you can do is clearly and narrowly define the scope of your project along with its primary one of two goals.
The goal for all service-based business projects should relate to the needs and wants of customers. As such, a good thing to constantly ask yourself when working on a new project is if what you are doing is helping solve one of your customer’s most pressing problems. If not, you should move on.
3. Team Roles, Expectations, and Objectives
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Many service-based companies have diverse teams with many different skill sets. In situations such as those, you have to make an extra effort to ensure you, and everyone else is communicating properly. In practice, what this means is that team members not only need to understand their jobs but also their deadlines as well as the fact that they need to regularly check-in with one another to make sure they and everyone else is on track. You, as the manager, must make proper communication on of your company’s top priorities.
4. Progress and Roadblocks
Regularly measuring progress is essential, especially with complex projects. Even before you begin a new project, you should have checkpoints or benchmarks in place that establish when team members need to check-in, and how far along they should be at each given point. When setting deadlines, it is important to include employees and subordinates in the conversation. People are much less likely to miss deadlines or to complain if they had a hand in creating them.
5. Deliverables and Finalization
Only an incredibly small number of businesses actually finish all of the projects they start. This is due mostly to bad project management. Ideally, you want to be the type of service-based business that completes 100% of the projects it starts. This is only possible; however, if you do proper planning and follow all of the already mentioned project management principles, you will greatly improve your business’s start-to-finish ratio.
Hopefully, now you better understand how to manage projects for your service-based business based on these project management principles. Just remember the importance of putting thoughtful planning and consideration into now only your services but also the systems that help your business run. That you will create not only great products but also a great company.