Project management is important for companies and this certainly applies to small- and mid-sized firms challenging larger enterprises in a dynamic environment characterized by intense competition, globalization and customer demands for quality and timeliness. A good deal of research has been done on project management in larger organizations; however, relatively little has been written about project management techniques in smaller companies with much more limited resources. One exception is a paper written by Murphy and Ledwith that reported the results of a survey of more than 100 owner/managers of small high technology businesses in Ireland regarding various issues and techniques associated with their attempts to implement project management systems and techniques.
Key findings of the survey, as well as a review of related empirical studies by the authors of the paper, included the following: the critical criteria for assessing whether a project was “successful” included time, cost, quality and client satisfaction; the critical factors that contributed to the “success” of a project included top management support, clear goals and objectives, planning and control, resource allocation, risk management and client consultation; respondents strongly agreed that a well defined project management process was necessary for projects to be successfully implemented and that previous experience was a key factor in implementing an effective project management system; and respondents acknowledged that large organizations approach projects in a different manner than smaller firms and that organizational structure affects project management.
Owner/managers of small firms realize that larger organizations arguably have certain advantages over smaller firms with respect to project management—greater capital and resources and greater specialization; however, they did not accept the notion that project management was too complex and costly to be used by smaller firms. When asked for specific ideas about how project performance could be improved they suggested making sure that project tasks took priority over other work, more control of project teams, clearer goals and communications channels and more emphasis on fact finding and client input at the conception stage. The most popular project management tools and techniques among the respondents included formal project planning software, Gantt charts, project teams and change control processes.