A simple project management guide for startups
Project management can seem like it’s only for the very grandest of tasks. In business though, it’s about managing a project of any size and scope, from something seemingly small, like choosing your brand logo, to something that appears huge, like creating a whole new product from scratch. For startups, good project management will be a key factor in your success as it can help you get the results you want on time and on budget. As a very simple guide, we’ve outlined below the three key steps to ensure your project management doesn’t let you down.
Essential project management guide for startups
Outline a brief
First step, outline your project brief. Sounds obvious, but it’s so often forgotten about, particularly if you’re an entrepreneur doing everything: “I know what the project is, why bother?” But the point about the brief is that it summarises and gives you visibility of each aspect of the project – the goal, the means, the timeframes etc.
Filter by creating individual tasks within the project. For example, if your project is to fix a car, you wouldn’t merely say ‘fix car’ and leave it at that. You’d define each of the elements of the car to be assessed – check engine, check exhaust, check lights etc. Then you’d make sure you create as individual tasks each of things that need fixing.
The process of outlining your brief is key to breaking down your project into manageable chunks that you can tick off as you go.
Set budget and limits
If you’re starting a new business, chances are you’ll be short of time and money. This is crucial to your project management success. It goes without saying (you’d think) that a well managed project comes in on budget and on time. But before you can say you’ve done that, you’d first have had to establish what on budget and on time actually meant.
It’s important to decide early what you’re prepared to spend on a project and how much time. You need to be flexible – good project management always leaves a margin for error – but not too much or you run the risk of wasted energy, time, money etc. The goal is to be lean – but not at the expense of quality.
Coming onto quality, we must have a process in place for ensuring that the project is completed to the right level. Measuring the performance of each individual task (against time and money as well as quality) will help a lot. Continual assessment of the progress of the project is a must – you don’t want to get to the end and realise that the whole exercise has been on time and on budget but failed to deliver on quality.
In this sense we can sum up the startup project management guide as three key elements – 1) Time, 2) Money 3) Quality. You may sacrifice one for the other two, or maybe even two for the other one, but you should always know why you are doing this and what the end result will be. Think of it as a fixed triangle with each element affecting the other i.e. you can have things quickly for an extra cost OR a compromise on the quality. Having a clear vision of where you want to get to and a high level plan on how you plan to get there from the outset should enable you to set clear goals punctuating your delivery along the way.
Image by Guido Gloor under creative commons