Running a successful business relies on many factors, with good management at the top of the list.
Most owners want to see their businesses grow and develop across all areas. This can mean improving efficiency, becoming more profitable, increasing turnover, diversifying products or services, broadening the client base, increasing existing geographical footprint or indeed all of these goals.
No matter the size, any business can benefit from a good strategic plan to help steer and navigate the path ahead. Such a plan provides direction and ensures each part of the business is working towards a common goal by identifying particular areas that need attention. If you don’t already have a plan in place for your business and where you want it to be heading ‚Äì get one.
In order for a strategic plan to add real value, each proposed improvement or goal should be considered a separate project and be managed as such.
Without an effective system to guide these changes, you may find yourself at a particular proposed milestone in your strategic plan and discover you have achieved very little.
Project management is often associated with big developments but the overriding principles can be easily adapted to help any business.
There are four key phases when effectively managing a project:
In future articles, I’ll be sharing more specific details about each stage but the following outline gives a broad overview of their particular importance and place in the roll-out of managing your business’s particular project.
The concept phase, or initiation, will be drawn from your strategic plan and is usually the big picture item that needs to be delivered as part of any long term strategy. This may be a specific goal such as establishing a new office in another capital city, providing a further service or product offering, or updating your accounting system.
The planning phase will be reflected in your operation plan and outlines the detailed steps that need to be taken to ensure the proposed goal will be delivered. This is where business owners need to ensure proper resources (people, time, money) are available to achieve the desired outcome.
The execution phase is perhaps the most critical part of project management. It is during this phase where particular skills and abilities are required to effectively manage people, get the right advice, stick to the budget and bring the project back on track if needed.
Finally the termination or winding up phase. This important stage reviews and evaluates what is now happening in the business since the project was activated ‚Äì what’s working and what’s not? Any final changes from this point will then set the next concept or initiation phase to begin a new round of changes to help improve and benefit your business.
As Benjamin Franklin once said “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.” This philosophy is fundamental to how I run my own business.
Project management can provide a useful framework and reliable approach for any sized business owner to plan, guide and achieve their business goals – from start to finish.
Stephen Barr is a registered surveyor, certified practicing planner and owner of Barr Property & Planning. He has been involved in the development industry for more than 20 years and works with clients to combine strategic thinking with practical planning advice and development expertise.
With a background in surveying, Stephen understands the implications of crucial decisions that are made from the planning stage through to a project's final delivery. He is a former Chairman of the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) - Hunter Chapter, serves on Compass Housing's state committee and is a member of the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA).