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Ian Mitchell asks on Linkedin.

I have spent the last 20 years a freelance consultant managing small hi-tech projects in large and small organisations. Examples include, satellite communications systems and integration of mail campaigns with data warehouses.

Characteristics of small projects,

  • the project manager is assigned 1 – 2 days/week
  • people in your team will frequently also be working on other projects
  • team size is 3-10

Ian asks two questions, why a smaller projects difficult to manage? And how to adapt PMP for smaller project.

The principal challenge of smaller projects Is the difficulty communicating the vision a project team who have other duties and ensuring that they remain orientated to project progress. Because you have so few hours to do this in and the team is so distracted you must keep the communications very simple.

My own methodology is tailored version of PRINCE2 (similar to PMP) called ElephantPM and owes a lot to the rational unified process. Each project has the same stages,

  • SU: Start-up
    • Plan and properly resource the project
  • R1: Risk Reduction 1
    • The goal is to reduce the main commercial and technical risks
  • R2: Risk Reduction 2
    • Additional risk reduction
  • C1: Construction 1
    • Build it
  • H1: Handover 1
    • Hand over to operations and closedown

Additional risk reduction and construction stages may be added if necessary. The first time I run a project the team have to learn the goals of each stage but each subsequent project benefits from this knowledge.

Many Project Executives will be responsible for several small projects and you will soon hear them saying “which stages is it in?” and understanding the response. For example, a project in the R1 stage will have many risks to schedule, whereas one in the C1 stage will have few risks to schedule.

I am presently writing a book about managing small projects, and if you would like my comments on any other aspect of project management please contact me and I am likely to address your issue in a blog post.