How to Win With a Project Manager in Your Small Business

When does it make sense to bring a project manager into your small business?

People have different roles for project managers within their business. In my business, I have about eight hours of meetings with project managers per month. In those meetings, I process the tasks in my inbox and triage them into Remember the Milk, have conversations with the project manager about the feasibility of the commitments I have taken on/will be taking on/would like to take on, and start to get in communication with anyone I need to repromise to, revoke promises to or reschedule with. I also have higher-level conversations about processes for efficiency, total workload capacity and balance between different types of work.

For some small business people, the project manager also does a bit of cat-herding—checking in on tasklists and duedates, especially those which are past due. When they spot something which is lagging behind or flat-out has not been done—especially if there is a recurring theme of delay on that type of task—they have a conversation with the team member to see what they need to be effective. Sometimes that conversation looks like coaching to uncover any emotional or contextual roadblocks, and sometimes it is a process conversation to see what would make it easier to complete that task consistently.

Project managers also are likely to assist in the scoping/estimating process of bids to make sure that time conflicts, logjams and cost overruns are prevented wherever possible. For example, Causeit worked with one of our project managers in the process of constructing a bid for a large flat-priced graphic design project to ensure we met a minimum hourly pay rate and, thus, profitability.

In a smaller business, the project management accountability often falls on the business owner, general manager or an account manager. First steps for additional project management support, with a generally effective team who sometimes get overwhelmed (rather than a team with systemic problems around accountability, self-discipline and communication) are to implement some simple, low-cost solutions centering around reminding people of the promises they made. Technology solutions like Remember the Milk automate some of this process, and work particularly well when paired with a meeting with an outsider or other strictly-accountable team member who gently causes the conversation to come up on a regular basis (once or twice a week is best) and to stay on track.

In short, project managers serve to make sure the actions of your games get moved forward by ensuring actionable promises are made, recorded and managed. Contact us to have us facilitate an introduction to some of our favorite project managers, like Jodi Sweetman and Amye Scavarda!