Scale Down to Manage Small Projects
When the projects are large, they need to be managed with formal project management discipline. But many projects are not large—they are smaller work efforts that need to be organized and managed efficiently. This post will teach you techniques and skills for organizing and managing small projects.
“Here's the TenStep guest blog post "Scale Down to Manage Small Projects":
Project management processes should be applied scalably based on the size of the project. Large projects need more rigor and structure. Small projects don't need very much.
Small projects cover many types of modest work efforts. In most companies, these small projects are not actually viewed as “projects” at all. Your company may call these enhancements, service requests or work orders. One reason many companies don't consider these small efforts to be projects is because they are typically executed in the support or operations organization. In general, small projects can include the following:
- Unique work efforts that are clearly projects but have short durations and small numbers of effort hours
- Enhancements to existing operational processes and systems
- Errors in operational processes that require a lot of work to fix. This may move the work from being operational or support in nature, to being a project.
- Small process improvements
- Discovery or fact-finding work that may lead to a project later
These types of small work efforts are called small projects because they meet all the criteria of a project. The work is unique, has a beginning and end-date, results in the creation (or enhancement) of a deliverable, etc. It’s just that the work effort is small and so the project management processes will be small as well.
Let's take an example of how the project management processes scale down for small projects. All projects need a schedule - even small ones. However, you are probably not going to have a rigorous process to build a schedule for a small project - including work breakdown structure, estimating activities, sequencing, critical path, etc. Small project schedules can be created more easily by mentally laying out the steps that need to be performed and the order the steps need to be performed. There are probably only one or two people involved, so it is not hard to figure out who does what. For a small project, you can use a spreadsheet, a table or even a piece of paper to document the schedule.
Other project management processes scale down as well for small projects. Communication is easier, there probably will not be a lot of risk or scope changes, budgets are usually small etc. So, the project management processes still exist but they are minimized for small projects.