How SMBs can punch above their weight with pay-as-you-go project management — Part 2 of 2

WHAT TYPES OF PROJECTS BENEFIT MOST FROM PROJECT MANAGEMENT SERVICES?

The list of projects undertaken by an SMB that can benefit from dedicated, professional Project Management services is growing for a number of reasons. They include digital transformations pushing companies into technical areas for which they lack in-house skills. Another is the demand for leaner business operations, greater accountability and cost efficiency. Acquiring Project Management services is also a good idea when the delivery and goals of a project have a very specific or tight window of opportunity.

Some tasks and initiatives where businesses are now commonly looking for distinct Project Management services include:

  • Digital branding and marketing
  • Software development
  • Information security
  • Digital transformation
  • Estimating the cost of new business plans or expansions
  • Process reengineering
  • Business support initiatives, like help desk, HR, or accounting/financial services

Let us look at a few of these examples in more detail.

Digital Branding and Marketing
Transforming to new digital business models can require a lot of knowledge and skills that older businesses lack. There are lots of things to try — social media, e-commerce, content marketing, web applications, online cross promotion, etc. What is a ringing success for one business may be a bad fit for your own, and you do not want to waste time and money on trial and error.

Acquiring Project Management services for digital-strategy initiatives can help businesses quickly adopt the best new models. A project manager with experience guiding modernization plans in businesses like your own can elicit the right expertise to find suitable digital avenues to stay competitive, and find those which may offer the fastest and largest return on investment. They know the risks and pitfalls from experience and can implement best practices to avoid them.

Software Development
We are constantly hearing that every company must become a software company to survive. But how do you heed this advice in the real world if you have no software expertise in house?

You can do so with a two-pronged strategy: Outsource software development and, also, outsource the planning and execution of software projects to a project manager experienced in this area. You may even find outsourced software development and project management in a single company, like CMHWorks.

This approach can help small-to-medium sized businesses compete with bigger companies that have much larger budgets for innovation. Say you are a retailer with a brick-and-mortar store and an ecommerce website. You desire a recommendation engine based on real-time data to enable sales reps to suggest items to shoppers. At checkout, they could display online items recommended for the shopper based on his or her purchases, available for immediate order and home shipping. The problem is, you have only vague ideas about how, practically, to build and use it. Web analytics software? Artificial intelligence? Chatbots?

Hiring full-time pros to figure it all out with no similar projects in the pipeline would probably not be feasible for this company, to say the least. On the other hand, they could outsource the project to a development team led by an experienced and knowledgeable PM. The contractors would execute the project within cost constraints and to deadline, close it out and move on. The leading-edge technology, and the knowledge needed to operate it, would be the clients to keep and use to drive future profit.

Information Security
Businesses that operate in highly regulated sectors, like finance and healthcare, must stay up to date with constant changes to laws around information security. Just understanding how new legislation or small changes to codes affect them can be challenging. They may have to redesign processes to stay compliant and demonstrably prove this to larger partners, customers and regulatory bodies. An outsourced project manager who has had exposure to the same regulations and who understands how and why it impacts businesses can oversee such tasks to prevent time-consuming disruptions and costly penalties.

Digital Transformation
Many of today’s businesses are built on legacy foundations that are starting to show their age and inability to scale or deliver the features and functions required by today’s digital enterprise. A skilled PM can help your organization convert legacy software and system into leading-edge platforms. They can help break down internal silos of information, move applications to a more robust cloud environment, accelerate custom software development and coordinate a data-driven approach towards the delivery of digital services.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN ACQUIRING A PROJECT MANAGER

Here are some additional tips on working with an outsourced project manager:

To obtain buy-in for project management services in your organization, get estimates for rates and timeframes from prospective providers. Referrals and examples of similar projects they have completed can also help. If executives or managers are reluctant, suggest breaking the project into pieces; you can outsource an initial piece as a test before deciding to outsource the remainder.

Avoid language barriers since smooth, swift communication is so important to successful project management. If English is the native language of most people in the business, look for a PM who is also a native English speaker.

Project Management service providers are often accustomed to working remotely and with geographically disparate resources. Ensure they select or leverage the best possible tools for asynchronous and/or transparent communication and collaboration, like Slack, Atlassian, MS Teams, etc. These tools should be accessible and work equally well across all project roles to promote collective use, offer a clear view of status, progress and goals, and act as a well-managed repository of deliverables and project assets.

Agile methods for collaborating and for developing software can reduce the risk of failure or miscommunication in project management. Behavioral-driven development and tools like Cucumber and Gherkin allow non-technical staffers to participate in software development with natural, noun-verb language. Measuring the progress of the project frequently with milestones and metrics enables swift course corrections if necessary.

Define policies and processes around sensitive information to avoid breeches or leaks. Project Management services can be governed effectively with nondisclosure agreements and are inherently motivated to work tactfully and carefully with stakeholders across multiple enterprises.

Project Management services move on once the project is done. To ensure they are fully invested in its success, you can hire a PM that advertises services on platforms like Upwork or Guru, which allow clients to leave public feedback. You can also tell a PM that additional projects or referrals are possible if the project is a success.

Also, consider what if any legacy a PM may leave within your organization after closeout. Perhaps he or she can provide some training to staffers that can improve their performance or output in certain areas going forward. “As a control function, Project Management leaves the SMBs with repeatable processes, tools, and techniques that they can adopt and/or directly leverage on their next project,” Myers said.

OUTSOURCING IS THE EASY WAY IN TO MODERNIZATION, GROWTH

Companies should consider project managers as resources available to guide project success from the early stages and can reduce the overall time and money needed to complete them.

Companies can look at project management services as a resource to use proactively to open new revenue streams and gain a competitive business advantage. Some organizations unsure about expanding into new areas try project management services, and quickly find that the clarity and transparency it yields gives them a much better vantage point from which to make both near and long-term decisions.

And by leveraging Project Management as a Service, small and medium sized enterprises can turn utilization up/down or on/off just like cloud computing and storage. The pay-as-you-go model allows a company to adjust services to peak levels only when needed — whether that’s holiday shopping season, right after a merger or before an Infosec audit. And the benefits do not go away when the PM does. “By outsourcing a project, you can almost inherit within the organization a set of processes and methodologies that you can use going forward in a lot of areas of your business. And that I found offers measurable benefits long after the project is complete,” Myers concluded.

Contact CMHWorks today to learn more about our Project Management services can help you successfully complete your product and service goals.

Mike is the founder of CMH Works, LLC and has been an IT Executive, Chief Architect and Web Developer for over 25 years