Good ideas alone are not enough to create a viable product; plenty of dedicated work and planning is needed to transform an idea into reality. We at AtomLeap know this well and are constantly working on helping the startups in our High-Tech Accelerator program execute projects effectively.
Projects are characterized by the uniqueness of their conditions and circumstances. They are also carried out notwithstanding limitations like financial, time, and human capacity. Good project management is vital to ensuring the successful completion of projects. When used effectively, it ensures that the main goals of the project are clearly understood, dictates how and when the goals will be accomplished, and makes sure everyone involved in the project understands them until completion. It creates and encourages transparency in the work and whatever challenges the project faces and allows adequate time for troubleshooting to stop them. Project management increases the rate of achieved goals, boosts the effective use of resources, and reduces costs.
The project manager is the person that can accomplish all of the above and more and make it all look seamless. In practice, s/he monitors the successful implementation of the project plan, coordinates and motivates the team, communicates with the team and the clients, and provides documentation for the project. These, along with the other responsibilities of life, are a lot to juggle. In order to guarantee that what needs to get done does indeed get done, the PM must organize their thoughts and actions carefully.
The first step in successful project management is to develop and define what the project is and the goals you hope to achieve by the end. We at AtomLeap recommend using the LIPS framework to help you define the scope of the project in the beginning:
Leadership: What can I accomplish?
Information: What do I need?
Process: What do I need to do?
Systems: What should I keep in mind?
This framework helps PMs explore answers to questions like: what resources are available to me and how can they be used most effectively? What is expected of you as a PM? Who is your customer and what are they expecting from you and the project? What are the dependencies between tasks? What can go wrong? What outcomes should you avoid? Is it possible for you to complete the project?
Once you have considered all these issues, the next step is to come up with a plan and implement it. Challenges will arise. Some are preventable; be sure to look at similar past projects to see what issues they faced and how they faced them. The best way to combat (or even prevent) these issues is to be organized and have a strong sense of your goals. To insure your goals are met and the project is completed on time, your goals should be SMART, which stands for:
Specific: goals need to be clearly defined.
Measurable: goals must be measurable.
Achievable: goals must be feasible.
Reasonable: goals must be reasonable.
Timely: goals must have deadlines.
Tools to keep you organized
Be sure to utilize platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox to manage your documents; these allow you to easily access your documents from anywhere and to share them with others. Tools such as Gantt charts are extremely helpful with scheduling your project timeframe and with illustrating the dependencies within your project. Gantt charts list tasks to be performed in the vertical axis and time intervals on the horizontal, with bars representing the duration of each activity. Online management tools such as Trello and Asana are also helpful to track the status of tasks and share it with others.
Consider using charts like the ones below to help organize your thinking and prioritize what needs to be done first.
How to prioritize tasks
Always remember to allot enough time for the project to be conducted and account for the fact that unforeseen circumstances could occur. Each project is unique and likely to change during its execution. While careful planning is necessary for its completion, watch out for having too strict a structure, as it can stifle creativity and limit the potential of the project.
We hope you found this post helpful and that it gave you some food for thought for next time you manage a project. Also, if you are a high-tech startup based in Berlin (or willing to relocate here) and need help with project management or other aspects of scaling up, feel free to get in touch with us using the contact form on our homepage. We are looking for innovative teams to join our six-month accelerator program starting in January 2019.