The Project Management Playbook for Startups

This handy project management playbook for startups is all about improving how you manage your projects.

Free lunch, afternoon yoga classes, in-office massages…. Startup culture may come with cushy perks like these, but here’s another fact — getting your business off the ground is really difficult.

You need to validate product-market fit, build brand awareness, enter new markets, and attract and convert customers. Not only that, but you also have to ensure that things like your work procedures, as well as internal and external communications are streamlined.

The success of your startup depends on being able to tackle all these issues and more. But one of the important factors that will decide this success is how you manage and deliver your projects.

Project management is particularly crucial for a startup because of the immense flexibility that is required. Processes need to be amended at a moment’s notice, time that was supposed to be spent on one thing has to be spent on something entirely different, and expenditures of time, money, and other resources pop up during projects.

This makes it extremely important to have a solid project management framework that can keep the startup functioning smoothly on good days, and leave room for a pivot if things don’t go as planned.

Let’s look at some numbers:

  • Organizations that undervalue project management as a strategic tool have 67% or more of their projects fail outright.
  • Companies generally waste 11.4% of their resources as a result of poor project performance, which can be linked to ineffective project management.

Without some good project management, your startup’s success may remain a pipe dream.

In this project management playbook for startups, we break down the steps you need to take to improve how you manage your projects. Let’s begin!

Pick a Project Management Methodology

Choosing a methodology is the first crucial step in having robust project management.

However, you have to remember that there’s no right or wrong when it comes to picking a method, only what’s best suited to your startup.

So, before selecting a project management methodology, consider asking questions such as:

  • What’s our organizational structure?
  • How big is our team?
  • What are our goals?
  •  How big are our projects?
  •  How complex or flexible are our projects? Is there room for project scope to change as we work?
  • How involved will the clients/stakeholders be in the process?
  • Do our clients prefer a particular methodology?

Answering these questions will help you determine what project management method will work best for you.

For example, you may find that your startup adopts non-linear tasks and you’re more suited to an agile methodology, or you may find that a Scrum framework will work best since you work in “sprints.”

Project Management Tips for Startups

Once you’ve picked the method that works best for your business, it’s time to start building your project management framework.

The following tips will help you get your project management right.

Set Realistic Goals

Goal setting is at the core of project management. Your goals are what will make your team operate in a way that allows for the project to move in the intended direction. When you have goals in place, you can determine the tasks that need to be undertaken and when they should be completed.

That said, it’s not enough to set goals, they also need to be specific, measurable, achievable, and timely (SMART). Good goals will push your startup forward while challenging team members in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them.  

Your goal setting should start with a solid foundational plan:

  • Identify who will be involved in the project. This will include both your client and team members
  • Create an action plan
  • Develop a project timeline

Also, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are we looking to achieve with our long-term goal/s?
  • Does everyone involved in the project have visibility into the project details?
  • Have I provided my team with the resources they need to work through the action plan?
  • Am I being proactive in leading the project and leaving room for feedback?

A clear initial investigation into the purpose and ambition your goals serve will help your team understand the work they need to put in to accomplish them, and why.

Your goals will also feed into the milestones you set for your projects.

Set Milestones

A milestone is a project management tool that signifies specific points along a project’s life. It essentially marks a checkpoint where the project has reached a certain level of completion and can now be kicked off into another important phase.

Milestones act as a marker for assessing the effectiveness of projects, and knowing where to set them is among the key skills you need to refine and master in project management.

First, you need to identify and highlight important milestones with your team. When doing this, remember the importance of deadline setting. Getting your team into the habit of setting specific (but realistic) deadlines will make your project management smoother.

It’s a great idea to use a tool that helps your team with assigning deadlines to projects and tasks. Consider Typed, for example.

Your startup probably undertakes a lot of tasks that involve document editing and knowledge sharing. With Typed’s ‘Task’ feature, you can organize, manage, and assign all your upcoming tasks. You can also set deadlines, all without leaving the document editor.

Deadlines are automatically synced with Google Calendar, further streamlining your project management.

Next, you have to find a way to keep milestones visible at all times. This way, your team has something more immediate than the completion of the entire project to look forward to.

Finally, make sure you encourage a culture of recognition and appreciation when a milestone is achieved. Your team needs to feel valued for their contributions!

Keep the Communication Open, Frequent, and Effective

Clear and effective communication is the cornerstone of good project management. Keeping communication lines open allows you to keep up with client expectations, as well as your team’s expectations, abilities, motivation levels, and problems.

When your team communicates well, their efficiency and productivity will likely increase. In fact, 97% of employees think that communication impacts their task efficiency daily, according to CMSWire.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when communicating (you should also ask team members to ask themselves these questions):

  • What message am I communicating?
  • Am I talking to the best person for this particular need?
  • Is my tone of voice allowing me to get my point across as clearly as possible while maintaining empathy and courtesy?
  • Am I using the right channel to deliver my message, or is there a better option?
  • Am I using tools and software available to me to get my message across in the most effective manner possible?

The last question is particularly relevant because it lays the foundation for a vital element of good communication — context.

Without having the proper background on a piece of work, a task, or a milestone, you can’t communicate, let alone communicate effectively. It’s crucial, especially in a lean and agile setup like a startup, to supply enough context to what you’re communicating to team members.

Context-driven work is one of Typed’s core missions. The Typed team believes that to truly excel as a team, a startup needs all possible tools at its disposal to make communication and by extension, work itself, as context-based and comprehensive as possible.

That’s why Typed contains features such as ‘Reference’, ‘Network mode’, and others that aim to maintain the context behind every document that is created.

Learn more about all these handy features here.

Keep your Processes Adaptable and Agile

Startups are often under the impression that they need to have everything organized before they step out into the world, but this is far from the truth.

For example, figuring out product-market fit demands extreme flexibility, so you probably won’t have everything figured out at any given time.

On top of that, most startup teams are small, therefore, it doesn’t make much sense to maintain a rigid flow of information and knowledge since team members will likely be involved in multiple parts of the process.

It’s essential to build a project management system that’s adaptable and leaves plenty of room for change and growth.

If you need any more reasons why it’s a good idea to have a flexible system, remember this — agile has benefitted 98% of companies that use it.

Effective Project Management for your Startup

From ensuring a well-organized workflow to identifying risks, keeping team collaboration cohesive, and ensuring project success, having a solid project management framework is important.

This project management playbook will help you formulate a good framework that will help you manage your projects effectively. Nonetheless, don’t underestimate the importance of having the right tools and software to ensure seamless management. The right tools will ensure the optimal use of resources in your startup.

Typed is one such tool. With it, you can enhance your project management and enjoy some massive productivity boosts. Sound interesting? Start Typing for free.