Everyone has a skill or talent that they can teach others.
Your in business to provide a value to your customers. It's a skill or talent that you want to teach to others.
So coming up with the idea for a new product or service is the easy part...
The hard part is packaging that skill into a product.
I've said it before and I'll say it again... if there's one skill that every entrepreneur must have - it's how to manage projects.
It will help you to;
- Plan our your work into management tasks
- Execute the work against the plan
- Measure progress and track costs
- Provide specific tasks (in the right order) to outsourced workers
It doesn't matter what it is... it may be creating a new product or implementing a new system.
The Systems Approach
Structuring work as a system has many advantages. It allows you to standardize and build work rules around work flow.
Here is where process mapping helps to understand the process and identify the most efficient means to perform the work. If you want to run an efficient and productive business, you absolutely need to have systems in place to structure your business and automate your operations.
The Projects Approach
Managing projects is very different than managing systems. Successful project management can make or break a company. I’ve witnessed several million dollar projects go off the rails due to poor project management.
If you manage some of your business growth opportunities as projects (which I no doubt you do), then I strongly suggest you get some form of project management training. Balancing cost, schedule and quality without it can result in project failure, which probably means an inferior product/service or perhaps a product/service that is little if any profit margin at the end of the day.
That’s why I teach project management skills to every client I have.
Systems are necessary, but they just don't happen, they must be created.
And so, everything you do in your business always starts out as a project.
Sure our core focus is developing software, but how do you think we manage to create and market so many products?
Because it's about the process... not the product.
Project Management isn't for dummies. In the corporate world it's a full time career for many.
There are many project management applications on the market that can help you better manage your projects, but they won't manage them for you (NOTE: Be careful in selecting an application... many are collaboration tools, not project management tools). cough (Basecamp).
Software helps to automate a business process, and a real project management software application is designed based on project management methodology. ...or at least the good ones should be anyway.
There are many tools used to manage projects and Basecamp is just one of those tools. It’s how you use those tools an what you use them for that counts when it comes to effective project management.
In this article I want to give you my 4 step method that you can use to crush your projects... instead of being crushed by them.
Project Management 101 for Online Entrepreneurs
A Project is a temporary endeavour; it has a beginning and an end. The end is a goal – the planned, measurable outcome of the project. YOUR goal is to work through the project from beginning to end in the most timely and cost effective way possible - without sacrificing the quality of the outcome.
There are four basic phases in project management. This is nothing new to anyone who knows anything about project management. What I’m about to share with you is not my roadmap, it’s THE roadmap.
Every project manager uses it. Some do it better than others. Some understand it better than others. Some explain it better than others. But at the end of the day, it’s the same roadmap to project success.
Now I’m going to explain this system to you in my own proprietary way. It’s my unique way of explaining what can be to some, a dull text book theory of how to manage projects.
I call this method the “Project Crusher Method” and I’ve been applying this roadmap since I started my online business in 2008. There are four main steps, or 4 ‘Cs’ in the Project Crusher Method;
CHART ---> CREATE ---> CHAMPION ---> CLOSE
CHART: All good projects begin with the creation of a project charter. This is a living document that defines the boundaries of the project.
Consider it your roadmap. Your vision for success. It covers what will be done and resources are required to get it done.
CREATE: Charting your project course is all about proper project planning. Where your project charter captures what will be done, your project plan describes how it will get done.
The purpose of this step is to align your resources to the goals set in your project charter.
CHAMPION: Once the planning stage has been completed, it is time to actually execute your project and monitor its progress... against the project plan.
At a minimum the tools/systems/processes you use should allow you to accomplish four objectives;
- Communicate with the project team
- Collect project information/metrics
- Monitor status of tasks and milestones
- Provide status updates to the customer
CLOSE: Formally closing out the project is an important last step in the Project Crusher process and if not done properly, it can spell disaster for a project.
The following steps will ensure that future projects will benefit from lessons learned so that you can develop a process that can repeat your project management success and avoid the mistakes made in previous projects.
- Measure customer satisfaction
- Document lessons learned
- Identify areas for improvement
All too often the steps noted above are skipped and the next project is immediately jumped on. This may be tempting, but take the time to follow through with the close out process. It may be difficult if you are a one man project team, but the information you collect is worth gold for future projects and your business overall – if you act on it.
Here is the thing... while you're running your business as usual and not intentionally trying to improve your operations, your competition is plotting to steal your customers. And if your business isn’t changing, then it’s not growing. And of course if it’s not growing... then it’s probably dying.
Where do you want your business to be?
The Plugin Results Dojo includes detailed training on how to manage online projects. Master this, and your product creation problems are behind you. The foundational skill for every entrepreneur is to be able to transform their vision into reality.
Being able to plan and execute the vision will determine your success. And it all starts with your ability to manage projects.