Project planning and management are the most complex tasks for managers because they involve streamlining processes within complicated systems and ensuring that all initiatives advance toward the specified objectives. In the process, managers may experience unprecedented setbacks and challenges which might increase the time taken to deliver on tasks and the associated costs. However, effective risk mitigation strategies and project management tools can help managers obtain more accurate estimates of project costs and period of delivery. The following report is a review of the project to investigate the role of SMEs in the United States’ economy.
Small and Medium business enterprises (SMEs) refer to organizations whose scope, number of employees and assets fall below a specified threshold. According to Lamoureux et al. (2019), SMEs have improved the US economy due to their ability to create employment and alleviate poverty. SMEs play a more significant role in reducing the number of poor people than micro-businesses and established organizations since they allow a uniform spread of financial assets. However, there is insufficient evidence on the implications of SMEs in the US economy, especially during the modern era, considering that several factors have changed due to the mechanization of factories and the adoption of technological solutions to run business processes (Inkon, 2019). On that account, the ultimate aim of the project was to investigate the role of SMEs in the US economy using the most recent data from organizations currently in the industry.
The project also intended to examine whether SME owners know of their businesses’ implications on the US economy. Therefore, the project set its objectives to identify the number of SMEs in various states, the number of employees in these organizations, and the rate at which SMEs reduce poverty in communities. Subsequently, the project sought to help stakeholders, including financial institutions, non-governmental organizations, governmental organizations, and other business owners in the SME industry to acknowledge the impact of SMEs on the business landscape and develop solutions to enhance their growth. As a result, the project embarked on three milestones including data collection using questionnaires and sourcing data from SMEs, data analysis using analytic tools, and data interpretation using SPSS and ANOVA statistical tools. Although most of the project initiatives went as planned, numerous barriers resulted in exceeding the project budget in terms of cost and completion by 20%. Thus, this review proposes a more effective plan to close the project and examines reliable computer-based tools to manage costs and scheduling, the need for continuous improvements, and the impact of risk management strategies in ensuring the best outcomes.
A Strategy to Close Out the Project
A project’s closing phase is the final stage of its life cycle. Thus, it provides managers with the opportunity to evaluate and review their projects, which is critical for the design of similar programs in the future. In addition, a project’s closure also ensures that all work is completed according to the plan, all processes are executed, and all parties have approved and signed off the project. Thus, a project’s closure obligates the efforts of all individuals responsible for its delivery and completion (Inkon, 2019). Our project involved collecting qualitative data from SME owners in various locations across states in the US. Moreover, it constituted the collection of historical data from SMEs located in various regions and information about their performance. As a result, the project sought the services of representatives and data collection officers who were stationed in the states to visit SMEs, interact, and interview the selected study participants. That being said, all officers will be expected to report back to the data collection center to verify the tabulated information and review any modifications and changes.
After making the necessary changes and ensuring that the results obtained from the project meet objectives, the next step will be presenting the information to clients and shareholders in the SME industry. The list comprises all individuals who can potentially benefit from the growth and expansion of SMEs including the general public, government authorities, non-governmental organizations, financial institutions, and other business owners. Subsequently, the project will request any feedback from stakeholders and business owners on gaps or areas that require more consideration or elaboration (Poriya et al., 2020). Next, the projects team will address any issues that had initially been left on hold including pending payments or contracts. Finally, the project managers will conduct a comprehensive review to gather the key takeaways for future learning and improvement. However, the program anticipates challenges due to the complexity of the process.
The strategy adopted in the project involved collecting historical data on the performance of SMEs in various regions and qualitative information from business owners. Therefore, one of the main challenges anticipated during the closure stage is too much data due to disorganized information. Filling the final paperwork will also require much effort as there are numerous documents to go through. Thus, this stage obligates outsourcing personnel for the job to ensure reliable results. On that account limited resources to remunerate team members and oversee the completion might stall progress. Moreover, staff shortages and issues due to burnout could limit performance and result in substandard outcomes (Armenia et al., 2019). However, the project’s management intends to prioritize the quality of results obtained from the process. Hence, it will adopt strategic solutions to counter these issues.
There are several computer programs and coding techniques that could alleviate sorting out documents. As a result, the project’s managers aim to research the best solutions to document data after data collection and tabulation to alleviate staff workload. In addition, the managers will require additional resources because the project was under-budgeted. Therefore, the team will liaise with the initial investors to determine whether additional funds and resources can be provided for the project’s completion. Additionally, the management will welcome member contributions since any funding sources will be beneficial in the final stages. Staff might also experience burnout due to more workload and staff shortages (Kerzner, 2019). Thus, the management plans to work with professionals to develop an appropriate routine and guide staff against overworking. As the project advances, the management will adopt more solutions to ensure quality, reliability, and effectiveness.
Recommended Computer-Based Tool to Manage Budgeting and Scheduling
Computer-based software offers unmatched effectiveness and efficiency due to its ability to share information between parties fast. However, there are numerous software programs and project management solutions online, requiring comprehensive research for one that meets specific project needs. Budgeting and scheduling were the areas where the project failed. Thus, a recommended project management tool is the Oracle Project Management Software, designed to facilitate the easy operation and completion of data collection projects (Poriya et al., 2020). Oracle PMS is equipped with automatic planning and scheduling software, it allows collaboration in the execution and management of tasks, it can generate average budgets and financial forecasts according to the projects time, and estimate the delivery period according to the projects rates of delivery (Poriya et al., 2020). In addition, the project’s managers can use the software for prediction and analysis purposes, meaning that it will significantly reduce the workload during the project’s completion. Hence, the Oracle project management tool will help identify issues and limit escalations.
Although the Oracle project management software will significantly alleviate workload issues, the project’s initiatives will not be fruitful unless the management and teams responsible for data collection, tabulation, and documentation familiarize themselves with the program. Therefore, the different approach the project’s managers will adopt includes intensive training to ensure that all individuals with information management positions learn everything about the program, including potential issues and solutions to troubleshoot glitches (Poriya et al., 2020). Moreover, the managers will be responsible for training other staff on their roles when using the software to ensure that they upload accurate data on time. In addition, the project will prioritize the software use and reduce the staff involved in the process to save on resources. The project will also rely on the software’s features to plan the delivery period and observe milestones as the project progresses. Since the program is equipped to forecast the budget and time based on the project’s plan, it will serve as a dependable tool to monitor setbacks and apply solutions. These initiatives will significantly reduce the budget for the project’s closure and ensure timely and reliable results.
The Essence of Continuous Process Improvements
Continuous process improvement refers to a lean management strategy involving working constantly to enhance project processes and streamline workflows. Continuous process improvement is critical in all projects and programs regardless of their size because they allow project managers to identify opportunities in between processes and limit waste (Armenia et al., 2019). During our project’s implementation, the data collection process was cumbersome as most participants were not available at the scheduled dates and times. Hence, the data collection personnel spent more time than planned and utilized more resources. Additionally, the approaches adopted were disorganized, leading to stalling of processes and limitations. However, continuous process improvement would have allowed the managers to note these discrepancies and devise solutions to collect data and maximize efficiency (Kerzner, 2019). Thus, considering that the project’s closure has limited time, features occasional shifting of deadlines, and a strict budget, continuous process improvement can help alleviate potential issues and make better decisions.
Continuous process improvement is crucial to a project’s success because it leverages the ideas of all parties involved. As a result, it can shorten the time taken to implement ideas since team members are better positioned to alter their processes at any time. Additionally, continuous process improvements motivate individuals to apply innovative solutions to arising issues. Consequently, team members can share skills and learn from each other. Another vital benefit of continuous process improvement is knowledge advancement (Kerzner, 2019). Once managers identify issues in their systems and acknowledge their implications, they can work towards improvement and avoid similar issues in the future. Moreover, applying lessons learned from mistakes facilitates improved organization, better planning, and smooth workflows. Therefore, prioritizing continuous process improvement can assist project managers to streamline workflows, limit process failures, completing projects on time, and achieving the expected outcomes.
The Potential Implications of Risk Management Techniques on the Project
Risk management is a critical strategy in all projects because risks are unprecedented and unavoidable. Since it is impossible to avoid risks, the role of a project manager is to minimize risk and mitigate the project initiatives against its effects. However, different projects face varying limitations depending on their scope and environment. Thus, applying a unique risk management solution to a project depending on its goal and initiatives can help reduce setbacks (Smith & Merritt, 2020). Apart from enabling project managers to forecast and prepare to tackle potential issues, risk management techniques allow for better budgeting, time planning, process prioritization, and the allocation of emergency funds to sort out problems that might come up during the project implementation phase. Therefore, applying various risk management techniques would have aided the successful completion of the project according to its initial plans as the managers would have planned for the challenges experienced.
One of the most effective risk management strategies for complex projects is brainstorming. The strategy involves critically evaluating all the steps of the project, its processes, initiatives, and applied solutions to ensure that they are practical and feasible. Project management teams comprise experienced professionals with vast knowledge of design and implementation. Therefore, before a project begins, it is advisable to brainstorm all available options and give everyone a chance to contribute to the planning process (Smith & Merritt, 2020). Brainstorming is particularly beneficial in overseeing historical data and forecasting possible risks in relation to previously conducted projects. As a result, it enables managers and team members to understand the scope of issues they might encounter and prepare to address them strategically.
Another reliable risk management strategy is a SWOT analysis, involving evaluating a team’s and project’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By evaluating these factors, managers are better positioned to identify risks as well as the resources they can use to defend their projects against these issues (Armenia et al., 2019). In addition, a SWOT analysis allows managers to alter their processes and ensure that they do not fall short of resources and time during the project’s implementation. Thus, analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and strengths of the project would have come in handy for its completion.
Project management requires taking note of every step of a project to ensure that they are aligned and practical. However, there are numerous challenges through all stages of a project’s life cycle, requiring strategic solutions depending on the issue at hand. Our project involved investigating the implications of SMEs on the US economy and their contribution to poverty reduction. As a result, the data collection methods involved constituted collecting qualitative and quantitative data from several SMEs around the US to obtain information about their history and business landscape. Given the complexity of the tasks, the team experienced several setbacks in delivering initiatives on time and controlling the budget. However, the project’s closure seeks to amend these issues by adopting risk management strategies and continuous improvement. One of the project software management solutions the team intends to use is the Oracle software designed to ease workflows, schedule tasks, budget control, and forecasting. Using the system the team aims at delivering reliable and accurate results on the data obtained from the project.
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Poriya, D., Shah, E. J., & Pitroda, D. J. (2020). Use of Information Technology (IT) for Documentation in Project Management: A Review. Our Heritage, 68(30), 8526-8537.
Smith, P. G., & Merritt, G. M. (2020). Proactive risk management. Productivity Press.