Category Archives: Project Management

Project Management

How to avoid going over budget on a project

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Build a flex fund or contingency into the budget

A great budget that can last throughout the entire project and protect a company’s balance sheet is more than just estimating how much everything will cost.  No, it involves understanding the risk and realities of the project you are undertaking.  Be sure to have a portion of your budget allocated for contingencies or emergencies with undertaking the project.  This helps you stay on budget rather than having no backup plan and when unexpected expenses crop up, having to scramble to find the resources or shut the project down which wastes valuable time and money.

Ensure you have an amazing project manager/leader

The key to an efficient and smooth project is largely due to the manager or leader of the project.  This person’s job is to allocate the resources budgeted to the project properly, as well as motivates and organizes the staff to complete the project on schedule.  It is critical to ensure the project manager fully understands the scope of the project and ideally, has worked on or led a similar one before.  It is very difficult to complete a project or estimate its costs if you have never undertaken something similar. That unknown means a greater risk, which means the project is more likely to go over budget.

Organization and communication are key

Spending the first few days or weeks of a project, establishing a routine and system for organization and communication can seem like a waste of time on the surface. However, the more complicated the project, the more likely issues in these areas will arise.  Information and instructions passed along the chain can be misconstrued by different mid-level managers causing confusion in their subordinates.  Work completed which is not tracked and organized could be repeated unnecessarily–wasting time and money in the process.

A system, whether digitized or based on company hierarchy, can help keep your project on budget by increasing efficiency in all areas of the project.  Assumptions are a project’s worst enemy and can cause aspects of the project to have to be redone or changed after completion, which can ruin timelines and budgets in the process.

Establish a relationship with freelancers, outsourced help, and suppliers beforehand

Nothing can derail a project more than a key supplier not fulfilling an order or delivery as they previously expected. Even if they have a legitimate reason such as port delays or equipment repairs, projects often have a linear component that means they cannot move forward without certain aspects complete or in place.  If at all possible, you should work with suppliers, freelancers, and other outside the company, on small projects or one-off assignments before relying on them for a key component of a major project. This precaution will ensure that the vendor is reliable, indicating that you are a serious company and should be respected.  Mutual respect ensures the supplier follows through on their promise, on time, and assures the supplier they will be compensated for their efforts as you already have established your working relationship on previous projects.

Business Plan

Resources to help your write a business plan

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Understand your industry

If you plan to open an ecommerce store or a monthly wine service it can help your business and planning in many ways to start researching and studying the competition.  While you may not find a verbatim business plan that they made, either because they got lucky and didn’t make one or didn’t publish it to the public, your studying will help you capture all aspects of your industry without leaving a stone unturned.  The challenges, supplier issues, definition of target customer, headwinds, tailwinds–all these things become more apparent, clear, and will make writing your business plan much easier.

Once you know the challenges you are likely to face, your business plan can establish how you plan to tackle those and what resources you need to allocate to that task.  Of course, there will be a myriad of unexpected challenges along the way that you did not plan for, but your business plan could even address how you will respond to those in a general way.

Maybe your plan states you will use a line of credit or debt to handle situations like that or there is a lever on capital expenditures you can pull to reduce cash burn and shore up the balance sheet if an unforeseen event happens.

Look at templates or sample business plans

While every business plan will be different, utilizing a template or an existing plan as a reference can help you focus your plan to what really matters.  Often small business owners or budding entrepreneurs can romanticize or neglect certain areas of the business, such as less glamorous things like taxes or legal fees, to the detriment of their business.  While a business plan is a high-level view of your business as well as how it will operate, it is not uncommon for these plans to be tens of pages, often close to a hundred for very complex enterprises.

Don’t neglect the mission statement

Many businesses neglect their mission statement or hire it out to a freelance writer to produce in fancy, lofty language.  A mission statement is not an archaic concept that no longer applies to fast moving, bootstrapped technology startups, but is the foundation of your business identity and culture.

If you want to start a business in a saturated industry but plan to stand out because of x, then your mission statement should be focused around x.  There is a reason you think this venture is a good idea, and that is what the mission statement reflects.

That way, when looking back on your enterprise in the future or faced with a tough decision about the direction you should take; referring back to your mission statement can remind you of your original goals, intents, and help to refocus the company.

That is not to say a mission statement can’t be revised–it can and should, but a powerful, well thought out statement can do wonders for a company.  Johnson and Johnson has one of the best etched in stone at their headquarters, and as a result have become one of the most successful companies in the world.

Should I Outsource My Project?

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Businesses of all sizes have a lot to consider when deciding whether they should outsource a project.

Outsourcing is often looked at unfavorably, but there are many circumstances when it represents an appropriate option and business solution. Certain types of projects simply lend themselves better to outsourcing, saving your business time, money, and efficiency based on your strengths, weaknesses and core competencies.

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Best Methods of Tracking Website Traffic

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Measuring and tracking your website traffic offers numerous tangible benefits. The metrics involved in traffic analytics will allow you to determine your audience, study their behavior and make the necessary strategic changes to boost traffic. You will be able to determine audience patterns and trends, better leverage your SEO strategies, and create efficiencies by devoting and allocating resources to content that drives traffic.

In layman’s terms, it’s critical to know who your visitors are, where they are coming from, what they are doing on your site, and how long they stay.

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