Workflow and Productivity in Your Small Business Don’t Have to Be Hard, Read These 3 Tips

Project Management Tips: What Small Businesses can Learn from Oil and Gas Goliaths

Small business owners are constantly inundated with software solutions that promise to automate tasks, guide, track and manage projects, and improve overall productivity among employees. However, these apps often contain so many distracting bells and whistles that the core of the project becomes buried.

According to Project Management Institute (PMI), for every $1 billion invested in the United States, $122 million is wasted due to lacking project performance. Too often, small businesses are orchestrating projects that become confined within the constraints of that management tool and therefore do not meet their full potential. So much so that 75 percent of business and IT execs anticipate their software projects will fail, according to Geneca.

Project Management Tips

In order to create a company with proper workflow and productivity, small businesses must analyze a few things as they work to implement project management software:

Workflow and Productivity Tip #1: Define What You Can Control

With small businesses, it is important to determine what you can control. This creates a baseline of where production should be. Once this is established, it’s important to determine your biggest ‘XFactor.’

Shiva Rajagopalan is an expert in workflow and productivity as the software platform he founded, Seven Lakes Technologies, helps streamline processes for one of the biggest industries in the world: oil and gas. The XFactor in oil and gas is — and this is no surprise — the price of oil. While this is controlled by the market, many small businesses will need to overcome similar roadblocks which they have no ability to control.

“O and G enterprises are using some of the most advanced technologies in the field. It’s time they start being innovative in terms of efficiency,” says Rajagopalan. “It was different when oil was over $100 a barrel. Now that it’s less than $45, they’re feeling the pressure to get the most amount of petroleum for the least amount of money.”

Whether it’s in exploration or services, even minor operational tweaks can have a massive impact on the bottom line.

Workflow and Productivity Tip #2: Connect Disparate Teams Effectively

According to research by Citrix, 15 percent of the U.S. workforce now spends one or more days a week outside a corporate facility, and they project that number to grow beyond 25 percent within five years.

As the workforce goes through a fundamental shift, the rules of decades’ past will no longer apply. The explosion in virtual collaboration means everyone, from executives to interns, will work from various corners of the world. What becomes important is how teams stay connected and productive.

Tsedal Neeley, associate professor at Harvard Business School, suggests, “the central problem for global companies is social distance, or managing the emotional connection between coworkers. When people on a team all work in the same place, the level of social distance is usually low. Even if they come from different backgrounds, people can interact formally and informally, align, and build trust… Coworkers who are geographically separated, however, can’t easily connect and align, so they experience high levels of social distance and struggle to develop effective interactions.”

Improving collaboration across all departments can have a huge impact on the bottom line for all companies. Whether your business is driven by the freelance economy, or you’re a field worker in the oil and gas industry, chances are you can be far removed from your team at any time. Properly connecting disparate teams is a challenge that must be conquered, especially as companies leverage talent all around the globe — not just in their backyard.

Workflow and Productivity Tip #3: Turn Insights into Actions

Companies, large and small, are ripe with big data options. Everyone knows they need to collect it, but the important next step comes from evaluating the results and generating reports on the potential value of those findings. Why did you start collecting this set of data points in the first place? What actions need to be taken as a result of the insights gained? Is there a process that can be improved to remove roadblocks? What data sets can be added to make this more accurate for improving business processes?

“The goal is to equip your team to drive significant and lasting value. Disparate source systems, ungoverned information, and unreliable data block their view to operational excellence. Give them tools to turn meaningful insights into shared action,” says Rajagopalan.

This type of event analysis can offer new insights that turn complex data sets from siloed systems, into digestible information that drives business intelligence.

Oil Wells Photo via Shutterstock 3 Comments ▼

Jeff Charles Jeff Charles is the founder of Artisan Owl Media, an Austin-based content marketing agency that specializes in helping professional service firms increase their influence and earn more clients.

3 Reactions
  1. Having goals can help too. This will help you stay organized and see how you are achieving things.

  2. I have taken a project management course and there is a way to organize your processes if you follow the right steps.

  3. Turning a one-person project into a multi-person and discipline effort is right sometimes, and wrong sometimes. Too many “projects: are in reality one-person jobs, given the right resources. Deciding which is a good executive’s job,which is tough sometimes, but the standard risk/reward calculation applies, as does the Peter principle, in this case “turning a great salesman/job performer-into a sales manager-project leader/participant. Project execution is fraught with the risk of personalities, boredom, extended deadlines (translate: wasted time, and more.” Knowing when a Project is necessary, and when it is not is key. Projects sometimes result when an exec knows that he doesn’t have the right person for the task at hand.