Many individuals struggle with organizing their day-to-day work. In instances where they are expected to perform many disparate tasks, disorganization could end up being fatal for their job and their career.
Disorganization could also be fatal for businesses, especially for startups where a small team is trying to cover a lot of ground and strictly defined jobs and responsibilities have yet to be assigned.
Organizing a business
Getting a business off the ground and keeping it running is a complex and massive project. The best way not to get overwhelmed by the endeavor is to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. As the old saying goes: the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Initially (and probably for a while) the task of project management will fall on the shoulders of those who started the whole undertaking. If they lack previous experience in managing people and projects, they’re in for a wild ride.
Keep your eye on the goal
To start, business leaders have to have an ultimate goal in mind. Depending on its specificity, that goal might or might not change as time passes, but any planning will be less effective if they don’t define an initial objective.
Having a general idea of how to reach that goal and fleshing out the various options is an important first step towards its realization. This is the step where you assess whether the project is necessary and doable.
What needs to be done? How long will it take for each part of the project to be executed? Do you have the necessary manpower and/or knowledge? How about funds? Will this project bring about what you want achieved, or is there an easier way?
If, at last, the decision is made to move forward, concrete plans shall be made to control risk, achieve quality, manage stakeholders, procurement, handle communications, and so on. This is also the right time to ferret out and address possible constraints (time, money, resources) so that there are no unpleasant surprises down the road that could affect the success of the project.
I won’t be getting here into project management practices as they have already been laid out many times before by people more knowledgeable that me. Still, it has to be emphasized that successful projects are usually the result of choosing the right and proven project management methodologies and keeping atop and taking advantage of new technologies.
The importance of task management
The global information security industry is thriving in part because of numerous startups comprised of focused teams that take advantage of agile development practices. This enables them to make rapid and flexible response to change and takes their collaboration efforts to a new level.
When working in small scale teams, task management is of vital importance. Team leaders must carefully distribute all tasks among team members, outline them, assign due dates, and enable team members to check off their tasks as they complete them.
Being able to see what the entire team is doing at a granular level also allows team leaders to quickly identify difficulties, redistribute tasks (if necessary), and project managers to always have an up-to-date view of the entire project. Tracking teams’ and team members’ progress during the entire lifecycle of the development process is critical for ensuring that a project is on time and important details are not missed.
The project manager and team leaders should seek feedback from their team during all phases of the project, as this will offer opportunity to fine-tune specific details that might become an issue. Choosing the right communication medium and scheduling regular check-ins with the team(s) is important, and questions such as “Is there something we should be doing differently?” and “How would you improve this process to make it easier for you to work?” should be regularly asked.
As the project unfolds, it’s on project managers and team leaders to track the progress, receive and make reports on the work, and consider needed changes.
Finalizing the project
Project managers and team leaders should break the project into sections at the very beginning. Each milestone needs to be clearly defined, budgeted and scheduled, allowing closeout processes to be performed as they occur.
By outlining all tasks and following up on team members at all times, the project manager can be sure that a project has been properly finalized and that all aspects have been done according to plan.
Finally, the project manager can deliver what was promised, provide all the necessary associated information, and see whether those in charge are satisfied with the result. Concurrently, he or she can prepare a project performance report and finalize administrative issues.
My 2 cents
I’ve worked on several lengthy projects and the best advice I can give is to be as organized as you can. You might be a solo developer or a small startup, but you never know what shape your project might take a year from now.
Planning in advance and setting goals for the big collection of tasks at hand makes sure you can adapt more easily as you encounter setbacks. If there’s one thing that’s sure, there will be setbacks. Good luck!
This is a sponsored post for Dropbox. All opinions are my own. Dropbox is not affiliated with nor endorses any other products or services mentioned.