Three Ways to Optimize your Project Management — Startup Edition
Talking about productivity is like studying theoretics, it’s the execution that matters. So we promise to keep this article about planning inside of startups short, efficient and hands-on.
1⃣ Plan ahead
Congratulations, you have already reached the first goal. 🎉 Because thinking about project management will make you a better founder, marketer, designer or developer instantly. The biggest problem of non-strategic people is to jump into the task and get started right away. They see a spoon and start digging. But it’s way more efficient to take a step back and start looking at the problem from a little distance. What’s the scope? How can we avoid possible obstacles with a better approach right from the start? That’s why we suggest to take your time, use some pen and paper and try to come up with some sketches of the bigger picture. This might produce some new questions or unforeseen details. But your planning tool of choice will help you structure those thoughts later on.
2⃣ Write everything down
Plans and markets can change over night, so you need to preserve a minimum of flexibility in your work. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should abandon structure, guidance and planning. Instead, try to come up with a routine of note-taking plus regular evaluations. ✏️ Collect everything that comes to your mind and ask coworkers to do the same. Develop a board with stick-on notes and see where it directs you. This can go on forever. But you will notice to start thinking in an agile way with implementing fast decision processes and flexible management. You don’t need to know everything about every prototype when everyone is on the same page. And such a shared development board will bring lots of value to you and your team. Note: Don’t waste much time discussing all the ideas. But do recognize when a new possibility appears right in front of you.
3⃣ Pareto principle
Are you familiar with the 80/20 rule? If not, you definitively need to think about proportionalities and priorities more often. The pareto princible describes that 80% of what you are trying to achieve can be done with only 20% of the total work effort. Imagine writing a pitch: Filling your slides with the most important facts and figures will only take you that long. 📊 But thinking about pictures, fonts and some whitespace will extend the task into the multiverse of office tools. That’s why we suggest to focus on efficiency more often. Always start working on the parts that neither you nor your product or future investor can’t live without. Go for the 80% first! Then decide if it is really necessary to invest even more time in studying details. Maybe some other issues have become more important in the meantime.
There is no blueprint
Every startup is working a little different, depending on the number of individuals guiding the direction. 👨👩👧👦 So it has to be part of the self-discovery of each team to decide on some reliable working structures. One might use agile methods to develop a product in biweekly sprints. Another one will only process a large number of backlog-tasks in no particular order. Both will work, for sure. But when you decide for some digital tools that help you along the way, please consider that there just is no one solution that will meet ALL of your needs. On the one hand Slack is a great communication tool, but easily lose the plot amid many chats and threads. Trello on the other hand is good for structure and planning, but not suitable for managing a team doing the real work. You have to try out many tools to find your individual feel-good package. Maybe our very own Scrumpy will be a good fit?