By Fernando Berrocal
As an aspiring entrepreneur, you must accept that in today's increasingly remote workplace, every new startup business requires some kind of project management to stay afloat and grow beyond its expectations. This is primarily why the project management career has become such a popular one in different sectors, and even more, many industries are still adapting to it. These range from different and random fields such as construction, healthcare, restaurant and bars, and more common ones like information technology (IT).
We assume that project managers in all these sectors encounter comparable issues to the ones they face daily at their workplaces. They come mainly from vital resources such as time, money, and humans. In a sense, they may relate to one another on common topics ranging from email etiquette (when to carbon copy (CC) and when to blind carbon copy (BCC) to urgent business messages (when to reply to last-minute demands) to spreadsheet pivot tables (how to count unique values more easily).
For example, due to the wide range of projects they are charged with constantly, marketing agency project managers are the preferred ones and have as diverse a skill set as you can imagine. The people in this field have assisted in completing everything from animated product demo films to research-heavy white papers to interactive trade show displays. These projects all had a lot of moving parts that they had to twist like a Rubik’s cube to get everything in order and on time to get them right. Many of the strategies and methods you will learn over the years apply to any endeavor, including starting and maintaining a newly established business.
That is why, whether you are consulting for a major or small business, one of the most important value-adds to bring to the table is procedural and conceptual structure. So, without further ado, in the next points we will go through the most important project management tips that will keep your clients and consumers pleased while also keeping your business going smoothly.
Improve Project Communication: You'd be surprised how many businesses still conduct internal digital interactions using email and even text messaging nowadays. Even if you can easily navigate through a hundred-message email thread, it's best to route those talks to a project management system where they belong and can be easily managed. These platforms make it much easier to uncover interesting topics without having to sift through your whole inbox and lose time in the process. Remember to keep a project or task thread distinct from the other messages. Finally, if you're exchanging papers, project management software makes it simple to guarantee that everyone on the team is viewing the most recent versions.
If you are in this particular situation, we recommend you use the web app Slack (it has also a mobile app) and other similar instant messaging tools that can also assist to prevent email congestion. This is true especially when something important arises that demands the immediate response and/or action of you and your startup team. If someone isn't available during an important Slack conversation, write a very detailed description of the conversation and any relevant actions to your project management system so they don't miss it and can relate to it fast.
Determine and Manage Stakeholders: One of the most common reasons for scope creep is a failure to identify important stakeholders and include them in feedback cycles. If you're dealing with a customer, you should start by having a single point of contact who can ideally combine any pertinent remarks or business requests. Sometimes you are that point of contact, in which case you must work extra hard to ensure that your whole team weighs in on projects when there is still time to make changes or pivot direction.
In any case, make sure you're collecting feedback and consent from all project stakeholders, especially those with enough authority to cause a bottleneck later if they're not included. There's always some big shot who won't be called in until the very end to examine your project, and they nearly always have "thoughts" on adjustments they'd want to see. The only way to avoid C-suite delays like these is to identify these heavyweight decision-makers ahead of time and ensure that you leave yourself enough time and resources to meet their last-minute proposals.
Put Out the Flames: The capacity to solve issues on the fly is the single most amazing skill a project manager can possess, and it is one of those abilities that cannot be taught. If there is a secret here, it usually comes in three forms. The first is to take a deep breath since whatever hiccup you're experiencing is probably not life or death. In the case of the second approach, it entails establishing a network of professional peers on whom you may rely in times of crisis. Finally, the third alternative needs you to verify that the problem at hand is fixed so that it is not passed on to the next project manager.
Finally, have a plan for an after-action review. Whether a project is successful or not, it should be followed by a debriefing in which you document the process, identify and analyze difficulties, and work out how to apply the lessons learned in future initiatives. This should go without saying, but your entire team will learn more from failures than from accomplishments, so see these sessions as learning opportunities.