Start as you mean to go on. Does a structured project management process have a place in a startup organization? Based on my experience I can categorically respond: Yes!!
Establishing clear plans and sound business practices early on builds a foundation for how the business will be run. Realistically money is tight and resource is severely limited so it is imperative that everyone is working on the right thing at the right time as effectively as possible. Even in a small start-up communication is key. If a startup embarks on projects without some defined processes, the only thing that will get them success is luck and you can’t really build a successful business on luck…not for the long-term anyway.
That is not to say that start-ups aren’t rewarding, in my experience they are typically exciting, trailblazing types of organisation and operate within an environment with a fast pace of change. Some people will love that excitement, others prefer the calmness of a long established organisation. It is likely that resources and money will be limited with many people taking on multiple roles and everyone pitching in to get the business off the ground. That type of environment is certainly not for everyone and definitely not for those of a nervous disposition.
It may just be me, but I like working with and running start-ups and get particularly invigorated being involved in the first steps of a product launch or a new business venture. It’s amazingly energetic, you own your own multi-facetted role, you often make your own rules and the outcome can be extremely rewarding. Take it and run with it is usually the mentality of a start-up and with the additional responsibility of being CEO you are often trying to work with a small but hugely motivated team who share your enthusiasm for building a great business. You definitely feel like an entrepreneur but undoubtedly have too much to do.
I’ve been involved in businesses that have embraced having a structured project management process in place and that has been core to their success. I have always firmly believed in the benefit of mapping a strategy and then developing an operational plan to deliver. Over time I have embraced software and technology to enhance the efficiency of the process. However, don’t even consider using technology to help you without first getting buy-in from your start-up team.
Where Do You Start?
Firstly, get agreement from the team to commit the necessary time and resource to discuss, develop and then implement the creation of a strategic business plan.
Secondly, look at the potential options to use technology to help your team streamline the process. On a personal level if I look back at the last century and the start of my career there was a clear lack of simple to use, cost- effective business productivity tools available to actually help a business define and track a long-term strategy. Fortunately, since then the business world has dramatically altered and the boom of the internet and the expectations of consumers for easy to use solutions available 24 hours every day on all devices as standard has resulted in a multitude of options. Today a start-up would be best with a cost-effective web-based solution to maximise the budget and resources available to them.
Thirdly, put in the hard work and enjoy the roller coaster ride. Hopefully there will be more highs than lows but ultimately your effort should result in a fantastic business with a few exhilarating moments along the way.