Running a startup is not easy, and as a founder there will undoubtedly be tons of things that you need to focus on. One of the most important however is definitely project management, as it will play a huge role in determining the success or failure of your endeavor.
The good news is that although project management may seem complicated, you can get a lot done as long as you know the basics. To be more specific there are three pieces of excellent advice for startup project management that you need to know.
1. Decide on the Project Management Methodology
Did you know that there are lots of project management methodologies out there? One of the first things you should do is decide which one you want to implement in your startup, as it will help provide some structure.
It should be noted that there is no methodology that is ‘best’. Instead, it is up to you to find one that fits your startup based on the size of your team, complexity of the projects, expected growth, and other relevant factors.
Some of the more popular types of project management styles are:
- Agile which is a very flexible project management methodology that focuses on finishing a project quickly and then iterating on the design to improve it. Although it is highly adaptable, the lack of structure can be an issue.
- Scrum is a very structured approach where each day ‘standups’ are hosted where the team communicates and stays connected, while ‘sprints’ are held to focus on specific goals. While this style is great at helping startup teams become self-sufficient, it requires someone experienced to run it.
- Kanban is a lean project management style that focuses on efficiency and eliminating waste. Its boards will let you visualize workflows and identify bottlenecks. Despite being powerful, this style is not great for making big changes in a short span of time.
2. Come Up with a Project Plan
If you want to manage projects effectively, you first need to have a solid project plan. The plan you come up with must include:
- An agreed-upon end goal that is determined after consulting any stakeholders and getting opinions from employees.
- Clearly-defined roles that outline each team member’s responsibilities and the part that they play.
- Complete project timeline which maps out project milestones, sets due dates and deadlines, and organizes tasks based on priority.
- Detailed budget that encompasses not only external expenditure but also labor costs to figure out what areas are worth the investment.
By carefully planning out your project, you’ll find that it is far easier to manage – regardless of the system you choose.
3. Move to a Project Management System Step-by-Step
Moving to a project management system for the first time can be intimidating – but it’ll be much easier if you go about it step-by-step.
The first few steps are relatively straightforward. All you need to do is take an inventory of the tasks that are on your teams to-do list, organize them by project, and then map out a workflow.
Next you should look into finding a project management tool that will help you to manage the system more effectively. It will also be a good idea to try an employee monitoring tool such as WorkExaminer that will let you keep track of what your team members are working on.
If you do use WorkExaminer, you’ll be able to see what apps are being used, websites visited, or even use employee screenshot monitoring. It is an important tool to track how your employees spend their time, identify distractions or bottlenecks, and improve productivity.
The data in WorkExaminer’s reports can help you to review exactly how effective your project management system is, and make improvements accordingly. It’ll also be a source of objective and unbiased data that you can use to reward or talk to employees based on their productivity.
Just remember that WorkExaminer does have different versions, so you should compare pro versions.
With the right tools in place, the final step is to brief your employees on the new system. Explain clearly how things will be done, and let them know the reason why the system is being implemented.
At the same time you should also introduce them to the new tools, and in the case of WorkExaminer explain how it will be deployed.
By following these three pieces of advice, you should be able to manage your startup’s projects far more effectively. It may take a bit of time to familiarize yourself with the new system (and tools), but before you know it things will be running smoothly.
In fact as time goes by you may want to improve upon your system further. The data from WorkExaminer and the project management tools you use can help pinpoint issues in your system so that you can work on them.
Make no mistake there’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ system, but your goal should be to find a project management style that is the best fit for your startup – even if it is a hybridization of several other styles.