When we first started out as a web development agency eight years ago we did what most small businesses would do. We fired up Microsoft Project and started building project plans, resource pools, and Gantt charts. Certified in Microsoft Project, our project manager created extensive visuals and stick them to the wall. Our small development team would glaze over at the sight of so many colorful bars, lines, and triangles. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but it turned out to be overkill.
Our development team is fast. We don’t throw around Agile Development buzzwords, but Agile Development is what we do by nature. Our project planning could not keep up with our developers. We needed a project management application to match our aggressive workflow. This same pattern is happening to many small businesses regardless of their industry. Conventional project management disciplines just can’t keep up with the fast-paced environment of an agile small business.
Our web development workflow is low-level and task-driven. We manage our projects at the task level, distributing to-dos to our team and tracking time on each assignment. We are too focused on getting things done at the task level for resource allocation or Gantt charts to have much of an impact. The tasks and time are aggregated at the project level to provide productivity and financial reports and gauge the health of the project. The hi-level stuff is reviewed and discussed at weekly meetings to keep our team on a productive trajectory.
This bottom-up approach is becoming more common with small teams like ours. And the antiquated top-down style of project management is being replaced with numerous web-based applications and productivity methodologies, like Agile and GTD. It has never been easier for small businesses to get their workflow online in such little time.
We have distilled our agile workflow into a web-based time tracking and task management service called Intervals. We believe other small businesses like ours can learn from our experience and save themselves a lot of hassle by adopting our time-tested workflow in their day-to-day operations. If you are a small business facing a similar dilemma, sign up for a free 30 day trial and experience a new style of project management.