Five tips for successful start-up project management

By: Paul Gordon

Date: 21 March 2019

A start-up team plan an upcoming project using Post-it notes on the wall.There is no shortage of advice available on the need for planning in all things - we've all heard the quotes, and nodded at the words of wisdom. But what does it all really mean?

The biggest cause of project management failure is simple - a lack of clear goals. In fact, 37% of start-ups cite this as the reason that their project didn't work. Getting the right training from project planning specialists can be key to success.

Here are five simple steps for successful project management, even in a hectic start-up.

1. Consistent, clear communication

No project will succeed without communication. If you are managing the project yourself, it is best to have a clear plan for communicating with your team, and be consistent with it.

That might mean having a weekly video conference, using Slack for general messages during the day and sending a summary email at the end of the day or week. Pick a system and stick with it.

2. Choose the right methodology

There are a few different methodologies that you can apply to a project to make it run smoothly. It is important that you find the right one for what you are doing.

To help you figure out which approach is best, look at factors such as:

  • size of the team;
  • deadlines for the project;
  • core business values;
  • any limiting factors, such as budgetary constraints;
  • flexibility in tasks.

If you have a series tasks that need to be done in order, then the Waterfall approach could be ideal. However if you have tasks that run in cycles, where you finish then start again, an Agile approach could be what you need.

3. Get everyone on board

You want to get everyone involved with the project feeling engaged and enthusiastic from the start - as this will pay dividends in tough times yet to come.

Start with the basics of your organisational culture, so that everyone working in your team feels involved, that their opinions matter, and that they are invested in the project's success.

4. Measure the right things

How do you know if your project is on the right track? How can you judge delivery timescales, and whether they are still relevant as time goes on?

The key is to measure the right things - the key performance indicators (KPIs) that show whether you're meeting your intended objectives.

While tracking, consider whether there are processes that can be improved or amended on the fly if they're not having the desired effect. Data is your friend in this situation, and you need to spend time getting to know it.

5. Prevention is better than cure

That's another of those old sayings that's super-relevant to project management. Back-up plans for emergencies are definitely something you want - but the ideal situation is to prevent the emergency from happening in the first place.

At the beginning, you should plan out everything - the scope of the project, the goals and objectives, benefits and also possible risks - and come up with a contingency plan in case things start to slip.

You can't plan for everything, especially when you're running a start-up and the unexpected happens daily. But you can prepare for many of the most common problems, and build flexibility into your projects to help you cope.

Copyright 2019. Article was made possible by site supporter Paul Gordon, Training ByteSize

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