The Importance of Business Goals and Project Management
Adopting Project Management Concepts and Setting Milestones for Your Business
Milestones in project management are tasks that are completed at specific periods during the course of the project. Each milestone represents a significant progress that has been achieved toward a successful accomplishment of a project goal, on or before its due date. Project managers closely monitor milestones, to ascertain if the project is taking shape and progressing according to plans.
If the results are otherwise, the project manager has to take proactive actions before reaching the actual date of task completion. Doing so prevents unnecessary delays or additional costs, especially if the task is interdependent with another set of projects. Such actions may also entail making some adjustments in the assigned tasks or in the budget, whichever is necessary. The project manager has to first analyze the causes before deciding on the courses of actions to take.
If you’re a start-up entrepreneur and contemplating adopting project management concepts and methodologies, setting up milestones at the onset is a wise step to take. However, you may be at a loss as to how to go about implementing project management strategies.
Establish Your Business Goals
Prior to making any plans or strategies, your first important step is to establish your business goals. Such goals can be for both short and long-term plans. Most often, the success of the short-term goals serves as the building blocks for your long-term objectives. However, you need to make sure that your short-term business plans are realizable within a specific timeframe. The milestones you use to measure the success of your project are effective, only if your goals are set as realistically as possible.
Aiming to branch out in another location, is an example of a long-term goal. You are well aware that before you can achieve this, you have to work on gaining a strong-business by attracting a good number of customers; not only locally, but from the outlying areas as well. Hence, you must first come up with shorter goals aimed at making your business and your products highly sought after. Some examples of short-term goals may include but are not limited to:
- Establishing your presence in the community;
- Making a name for your business as a reputable source of a particular product or service;
- Negotiating trade credits with reliable suppliers;
- Installing software that will fully-automate your business and project management systems;
- Setting aside or raising funds for your expansion project.
Key Elements to Consider When Making Plans for Short-Term and Long-term Goals
When in the process of making plans, organize your goals by sorting and prioritizing the activities that should come first. There are certain key elements, which you should consider when mapping out your plans and strategies:
- Create Process Maps or Flow Charts – In project management, tasks are outlined and charted into diagrams called “process maps or flow charts”. These tools provide the project manager with visual aid for determining priorities, task interdependencies and redundancies. The use of a process map helps to determine the type of professional services and employees to involve, the activities to carryout, the timeframe and the boundaries to establish, as well as the funding requirements of the project. Using a process map allows you to identify the significant points in which to set your business milestones.
- Carefully Select Your Key-Employees – Consider the aforementioned examples of short-term goals, in which the first item listed pertains to your goal of establishing your presence in the community. In line with this, you must think of the people who will help you achieve this goal. Aligning your employees’ qualifications, experience and interests to your goals, will make it possible for them to achieve the milestones you set up. It’s like putting round pegs into round holes to make sure there are fewer gaps or voids left unfilled.Let’s assume that you’re about to sell computer gaming products. Aligning skills means choosing an applicant who has gaming know-how over an applicant who has extensive selling experience but limited experience with gaming; or about games that are currently in demand and which customers will find enjoyable. Having salespeople in place who can easily relate to customers once they start asking questions about your products, will keep your customers satisfied. Satisfied customers usually spread out recommendations by word of mouth, which will likely lead to increased sales revenues.
As you go about setting milestones for monthly sales, your salespeople can easily hit their marks, because they have the ability to understand your customers’ viewpoints and gaming lingo. Hence, increasing your revenues will enable you to raise the funds you need to meet your long-term goal of expanding your business.
- Create Realistic Budgets – Project managers make estimates of their budgets by first breaking down a project goal into smaller tasks. They make estimates of the resources needed and determine the reasonable timeframe, based on each task that has to be completed. In reviewing the tasks completed, the actual costs incurred and the resources used will be compared against the budget to determine if milestones were achieved. Again, if the results show that the actual expenditures exceeded the budget, it will be necessary to make adjustments early on. This is to make certain that the overall cash outlay will not exceed the entire budget for the project.Adopting project management methods will enable you to come up with realistic estimates, since you will be allocating funds per task for each short-term goal. The cost allocation estimates for each task will be summed up to arrive at an overall approximation for your entire budget. Hence, it would be best to properly label each short-term goal to keep your estimations organized, especially for purposes of making comparisons between the actual costs against the budget.
- Create a Milestone Summary – Periodic reviews and monitoring of tasks in an ongoing project is another important aspect of project management. It is at this point where you will summarize each task accomplished into a form of summary for milestones completed. To serve as a ready source of reference, it would be best to indicate the person who owns the task, the target and actual dates of completion, as well as the actual and budgeted costs. If there are any variances, indicate the proactive actions that were taken in addressing the causes or in resolving the issues.
- Consider Using a Project Management Software – Let’s face it, as you go about reading the amount of details and data that project managers have to deal with, you can’t help but feel intimidated by the complexity of the work involved.Protaskerss software application comes as a user-friendly solution, to help new entrepreneurs manage most of the tasks being performed by project managers. You can make use of the tools and applications that will enable you to gather a wide range of real time data that will allow you to set realistic goals.
When choose a software, make sure of its capability to connect with databases that can furnish you with real time information about different sales indices. These may include sales figures for different products. By having access to this information, you’ll be able to truly assess your business performance, by comparing your milestone achievements against up-to-date and relevant statistics.