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Have you wondered how to make your small projects run as smoothly as possible—without building in so many steps that they get cumbersome? In this course, author and project manager Bonnie Biafore shows how a successful small project starts with planning: documenting goals, identifying risks, measuring success, and confirming decision makers. The course also covers organizing your files, estimating time and costs, building a solid team, scheduling work, and getting the project underway. In addition, you'll explore how to hand out and track assignments, communicate with the team, work through issues, and bring your project to a close. This course follows the relocation of a small business as the sample project, but the course's strategies apply to a wide variety of small projects, including those in marketing, business development, product development, software development, freelancing, and the like.
This course qualifies for 1.5 Category A professional development units (PDUs) through lynda.com, PMI Registered Education Provider #4101.
Once you've gotten updates from your team, you can look at your project's progress on the schedule, and how much you've spent. You can compare that to the plan to see if you need to make any adjustments. On very small projects, you might be able to evaluate progress in a spreadsheet. For example, the relocation project has a small number of tasks, and only a few dependencies between the tasks. So, the status and potential impact are easy to spot. In this example, the build out started late and that delays the date the studio opens.
If the project is falling behind schedule, you can think about ways to get it back on track. You might add people to a task to try to finish it more quickly. Be aware though, at some point, too many people working on the same task can make it take longer, as people communicate more, disagree or trip over one another's feet. You might consider assigning someone more experienced to get tasks done in less time. This approach sometimes increases cost.
For example, if you hire someone outside your company to lay out the fitness area, he might get it done half the time. But, his hourly rate is three times what you pay your employees. In some cases, you can overlap tasks to start one before another finishes. In the relocation, people can begin packing before the new space is finished. If the finish date is more important than the budget, you might choose to pay people over time to get things done earlier.
With the relocation project, you could pay the contractor over time to finish the build out by the original finish date, so the move can occur over the weekend as planned. Cost issues can arise if materials cost more or people you hire cost more per hour. If materials or people cost more, you can look for ways to trim costs elsewhere in the project. As you saw earlier, you might choose to use some of the contingency funds you set aside. For example, the labor costs through the build out were only $500 over budget.
The rest of the $7,000 increase was due to the addition of a hot tub for the facility. The owner approved that change request and used some of the contingency funds to cover the cost. Cost can also increase if tasks take more hours to complete. Before you decide how to respond, you have to figure out why tasks are taking longer; perhaps the people working on tasks don't have enough experience. Your estimates might be too low, or your team members don't have the right tools or are held back by obstacles.
Ask your team members why they think things are taking longer. If they identify an issue you can resolve, do it. As you can see, projects can go off-track in many ways. You have a lot of options for getting them back on plan. Don't panic. With time and experience, you'll start to recognize what makes the most sense in different situations. And if you need more help, you can explore Project Management Fundamentals and Microsoft Project Essentials at Lynda.com.
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