People usually have a very complex and elitist impression of the term Project Management. But we tend to forget that project management is an inherent phenomenon that humans periodically apply in their lives without specifically mentioning the term. So, in simple terms, Project Management is tactical management of various elements of the project to facilitate its smooth execution and effective functioning. The bigger the size of the project, the more detailed must be its management. However, irrespective of the nature and size of a project, there are some core aspects of project management the effective implementation of which would help any organization achieve its goals.
Digital Transformation and Its Importance for Small Businesses
Digital transformation modestly means embracing and making use of digital technology in various operations and departments of the business. To cite a minor example, the use of a biometric attendance machine to accurately log employee attendance instead of a conventional attendance register. Digital transformation helps businesses operate more effectively and orderly by bringing structure to laborious business practices.
With advances in technology and the modern world becoming more digitalized, small businesses are facing a real threat in the digitally cutting-edge corporate world. Small enterprises must evolve with time by discarding traditional practices to stand in the race. By digitally transforming the business, small enterprises can boost their productivity, curtail unnecessary costs, ensure successful completion of deals, and eventually raise profit margins.
Why is Project Management required for Digital Transformation?
Unlike big organizations, small businesses lack the dedicated human and technical resources such as project managers, teams and software for the efficient implementation of digital transformation. Generally, a small team of 10-20 employees is often responsible for multiple callings of the organization. Thus, effective project management becomes extremely crucial to achieve economical and timely results during the phase of digital transformation. Well-founded project management offers a governable structure to otherwise chaotic operational practices, helping the enterprise to streamline numerous tasks involved in digitisation. Digital transformation prompts disruptions in established practices and often demands cultural changes within an enterprise. Concentrated project management involves stepwise execution of the advanced system in order to carry out a smooth transition of working culture, policies, and employee behavior.
Also read: Tips and tools for small business owners.
Key Segments of Project Management for Digital Transformation in Small Businesses
There are three crucial stages of project management small businesses must adhere to for the frictionless digital transformation of the business.
- Execution Management
- Change Management
Planning is the most important step in any project management as it sets the road map to get the job rolling. The planning stage is designed keeping in mind the end product of the project, in this case, digital transformation. It’s the blueprint of the project.
The first and foremost step in the planning stage is to identify the requirements of digital transformation. Each organization has different needs, goals, and working processes. The personnel must thoroughly study the company’s operations & business methods to recognize the key areas of the business that require priority transformation. Well-defined requirements of the transformation help the business visualize the final output of the digitalization.
With specific needs and desired output in mind, the company then should identify critical supporting elements essential for implementing digital transformation. These elements basically define the necessary resources required for the completion of the project. The business might need an internal project manager, a technology expert, a tester, a trainer, a consultant, or digital solutions, etc. It should set up a team and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each of the members involved in the digital transformation. Furthermore, the business must also identify the end-user of the digitalized product and lay out a detailed manual for its usage.
Lastly, the business needs to recognize the vital dependencies of the project in terms of finance, availability of human resources, time requirements, priority, and some external factors that might impact the progress of the digital transformation such as market crisis, natural calamities, etc. Knowing these dependencies, the business should frame a detailed work-breakdown program that would include working steps, timelines, budgets, vendor identification, research and review of feasible products, demo methods, quotations & contracts, etc.
Once the planning is done in its entirety, the second phase of the project management, execution management starts. Here, the project is being executed as per the steps laid out in the planning stage. The execution phase involves vendor management, collecting and providing data required for digital transformation, monitoring the progress through responsible team members, follow up with vendors for timely delivery of the product, and delay management. The final output in terms of deliverables must be properly tested and revised for any changes before the application. While the digital transformation is being executed, the business must also parallelly make employees familiar with the upcoming system. A stepwise training program should be conducted to bring easy transition into digitalised processes. It is important for effective digital transformation that members of the organization align with the vision of their leaders.
Digital transformation doesn’t stop at the successful implementation of digitalized instruments. It is incomplete and ineffective if the new system is not integrated well within the organization. This is the transitional stage of project management where businesses embark on digital transformation by actually starting the use of the product. Small businesses must make necessary changes in the working policies, ethics, and culture to enable employees to embrace the digitalised methods. Helping people with upgraded procedures, fixing early troubles, managing the transfer of data, and building the new status quo are crucial tasks of change management that complete digital transformation.
Benefits of Effective Project Management for Small Businesses
Incorporating sequential project management tools for digital transformation, small businesses can accomplish extraordinary benefits without paying an exorbitant price. Meticulous planning of the project offers great control over the processes employed for achieving desired outputs. Utilising internal resources and involving stakeholders propagate active association within the organization, mentally preparing everyone for digital transformation. With proper monitoring, the enterprise is well aware of the variables that can impact the progress of the project, and thus necessary course correction can be done. Lastly, effective change management aids in the gradual transition of the business from the old state to the digitally transformed state.
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