By Carole Spicer, Spicer Facilitation & Learning
CEO. HR Director. Problem-solver. Project manager? Every business owner takes on many roles, but have you ever thought of yourself as a project manager? Most activities you are involved in are operational: they concern the day-to-day operation of the business, such as sales, payroll, and paperwork. So what would be considered a project and why should you even consider it a project? By definition, a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.”
“A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.”
- Project Management Body of Knowledge, 6th Edition, Project Management Institute
Product development, hiring, renovating your business location, and creating a business plan for your next great start-up are all examples of projects. They each have a specific start and end date with a deliverable as an outcome. Temporary does not necessarily mean short! Many projects can take months or years to reach a conclusion. By viewing tasks as projects rather than activities, you will find yourself in a better position to commit the time and resources necessary to achieve your desired product, service, or result.
A project comprises five process groups: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing. Each process group combines similar processes that are done at around the same time during the project.
During the Initiating phase, you review the objectives of your project. Why are you doing it? What is your desired product, service, or result? It is easy to get lost in the daily operation of your business and lose sight of why you are doing what you are doing. By framing work as a project, you have a way to define and measure the objective, and ultimately determine if you achieved that objective.
Planning should be as long as or longer than Execution. Read that again! A carpenter knows this very well: measure twice, cut once. A well-defined plan will save you time and resources, and reduce wastage. A plan is how you will achieve your objectives. Plan for it and plan well.
Executing is not when you want to kill everyone on your project, but it may be what you feel like doing at this stage of your project. The majority of your budget is spent now, with all your resources in action accomplishing what you set out in the plan.
Monitoring and Controlling keeps you on track. The key to good monitoring is having a solid plan in place to measure against. If you don’t know where you are supposed to be, how do you know where you are at?
Closing is a formal process that completes the project cycle. It is often ignored or incomplete, as team members are off and running on the next project. It is crucial to close off finances attributed to the project and release resources back to operations or other projects. It is always prudent to conduct a lessons learned session to review the project and learn from what happened, both good and bad
Entrepreneurs wear many hats. As a project manager, you take on a role not unlike that of an orchestra’s conductor. You can lead the various members of your orchestra to combine forces to make a beautiful piece of music. You may be called upon to play an instrument, but if you can stay in the conductor’s role, you will enable your team members to perform the desired tasks. This leads to improved capacity in your organization and keeps you on track.
The next time you set out to achieve a new outcome, ask yourself if you are better off framing it as a project.
Strong relationships are one of the core values of Carole R. Spicer. Carole is the owner and founder of Spicer Facilitation & Learning. A certified master trainer and facilitator, Carole uses her experience to help her clients achieve desired outcomes. She has worked in both private and public sectors and prides herself on the ability to customize solutions to meet the unique needs of the people she works with. A natural storyteller with a passion for her heritage, Carole often says she is in her dream job as she gets to talk for a living. She currently resides in Pasadena, NL, with her husband and their two cats. When not volunteering she can be found snowshoeing, kayaking, reading, or watching her beloved Toronto Maple Leafs.