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The importance of Project Management for SMEs

By ILX Team | 31 July 2020

Without a project manager, the task of seeing a project from conception to completion falls on company executives. Their position already has them rushed off their feet with day to day business running, managing, tackling challenges and innovating. And yet, so many SMEs elect to work with what they’ve got, rather than employ a dedicated project manager. These companies muddle through to the detriment of project success.

Whilst handing over the reins can present challenges at first (namely, resisting the urge to micromanage), it is important to recognise that having a project professional lead the way can greatly improve business outcomes. A qualified, committed project manager is as worthwhile an investment for small companies as it is for big businesses. Here we look at why.

Driving company growth

For small companies with big plans, a project manager is invaluable. A project manager can drive business growth through project success, building relationships and developing reputation. But also, by readying teams for upscaling by tackling bigger tasks and by aligning their goals with the company vision and ambition.

Keeping projects on track

Time is money, yet less than half of all projects come in on time or on budget, with this figure presenting even lower for those companies with low maturity in terms of project capabilities. For a SME, budgets are likely to already be stretched, but it is not just the project’s finances at stake. For companies starting out, credibility and reputation are of huge importance. Delivering a project late and over budget can be detrimental to your credibility. Onboarding an experienced project manager can go a long way to avoiding this as they utilise skills to keep a project on track.

Improving practices

Hire a seasoned project manager and you will benefit from a vast skill set. This is likely to include their knowledge and experience at other companies of a similar (or even bigger) size. Such experience can benefit the entire team. For example, a project manager may pioneer agile practices, and so can help to upskill the whole team to work to the methodology.

Benefiting from quality leadership

A project manager will do more for a smaller or medium company than simply oversee a project. Their role has changed and evolved over the years and now project managers are integral leaders. And as such, PMs are equipped with the skills to get the best from teams, to inspire collaboration, establish the project vision and push cohesive working. With quality leadership the entire team will contribute to a project’s success.

Building better relationships

As well as being beneficial to internal communications, having a project manager can build better external relationships. They work as a bridge between clients and the company. For small businesses in particular this instills trust as clients feel they have a party dedicated to dealing with the project, plus response times are likely reduced. An improved relationship has a direct effect on project satisfaction.

Optimising resources

Clever resource deployment is an undervalued skill which project managers possess. For many SMEs resources are limited, and so it is of great importance that they are optimised. This may be in terms of software, staff skill set or finances. A good PM will be au fait with making best use of what is available to them and uncovering any untapped assets.

Handling change navigation

The lifecycle of a project will present challenges. It is within a project manager’s role to handle change navigation and to drive the project even when it deviates from plan. A project professional will be wise in terms of managing change, as well as tackling risk management, and guiding the project to success in the face of challenges.

Further benefits for SMEs

Taking on a project manager can be daunting for small or medium enterprises, both in terms of the expense, and having to hand over control. But for all the reasons listed above, employing a project professional early on can be advantageous. Let someone else be accountable for the project and take comfort in the fact your project challenges will be shared, and your employees will have someone other than you to call upon when things aren’t going to plan. Good management is key for delivering projects of a superior quality.

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