How Startups Can Successfully Tackle Project Management

Project management must be treated quite differently from an enterprise-level organization when you are a startup. Startups need to be agile and pivot at a moment’s notice. Where more mature organizations may be able to plan months or even years in advance and have the funding locked in to handle marketing budgets, sales cycles, and R&D, a startup may be building a product while it’s looking for funding or seeking funding more reliable sales numbers. A startup is building the plane as they’re flying it. They don’t have the luxury of security that an enterprise might. 

That doesn’t mean a startup can simply ignore project management fundamentals. Instead, it just means it has to adjust to the reality on the ground.

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Find the Project Management Method That Makes Sense for Your Organization

When it comes to project management in startups, you need to understand your actual needs. With limited time and resources often at your disposal, you’ll need to be as efficient as possible and zero in on the bare-bones necessities. When considering an approach, as yourself:

  • What are the business goals?
  • What resources do you have at your disposal?
  • How complex is the project?
  • What will the final deliverables be?
  • Are you dealing with exterior stakeholders (such as clients or customers), and do they have specific preferences or expectations in terms of processes?

Once you’ve taken a look at what you have available to you and the scope of the project (or projects) at hand, you can begin to make a plan.

Set Realistic Goals

With limited resources, goals need to be realistic and achievable. While a startup wants to be bold and ambitious in its long-term vision, making the first deliverables a success story helps excite your team and showcases the company’s potential. As you develop your first projects and the plans around them, don’t forget to ask yourself:

  • Who is this project for? (Existing customers? Future customers? Potential investors?)
  • Do I have the resources (time, money, personnel, etc.) on-hand to manage this project?
  • How does the success of this project build upon the future success of the startup?

Find the Right Team Members

One of the top reasons startups fail to take off is investing in the wrong team members. You can’t build a company on your own. You need to create a team to help you deliver and grow. Hire the right people by asking yourself if the people you’re hiring:

  • Have the relevant experience for the project(s)
  • Fit with the company culture you are working to build
  • Share your vision for the company (and the project)
  • Understand the company’s direction and are ready to help you move towards it

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Project managers can save a lot of time and energy planning and executing projects if they have the right tools at their disposal. With many platforms designed as SaaS, there isn’t too much overhead or upfront costs involved either (and some are even free). Technology can be leveraged to help manage:

  • Tasks
  • Time (scheduling)
  • Planning
  • Tasks and milestones
  • Resources
  • File-sharing
  • Bug reporting
  • Financials (budgets, invoices, etc.)

Consider these platforms that can make your life as a startup project manager so much more straightforward:

Get Ready for Pivots

When it comes to startups, changes can happen quickly and often. Whether you need to get to market faster (before the competition) or notice a difference in the prevailing winds, you’re likely going to need to reassess, readjust, and pivot quickly to meet the moment. Make sure your project management approach takes flexibility into account so that you are ready to take on opportunities as they present themselves.

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