One of the most exciting times for a startup project manager is seeing their company lift off the ground and grow fast.
However, the new rapid pace of development can quickly overwhelm your entire company and disrupt your growth if it isn’t handled right.
But don’t worry. If you’re a startup project manager, this article has you covered.
Here are 3 pro tips that will help you improve the project management of your fast-growing startup.
If you’re going to take on more complex projects, you will need the right project management software to help lead your team.
As projects grow, you’ll find yourself having to coordinate a growing staff, answer more client queries and complete more demanding tasks.
It can be quite the leap for a small-staff startup with just a handful of projects to keep in the air.
Once you’ve passed a certain threshold, a basic version of project management software simply can’t accommodate the growing needs of your projects anymore.
PMI did a global project management survey in 2019 and found that businesses which use project management technologies waste only 8.5% of resources, compared to 16.3% of companies without project management solutions.
In other words, companies with project management software waste almost twice as few resources as companies that don’t use such solutions.
There are many project management tools available nowadays. Airtable, Asana, and Trello are just some of the tools you can look into but they all have different strengths and weaknesses so spend some time finding the one that works for you.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before choosing one:
- Is the admin panel easy to use and intuitive?
- Can I easily add new users to my existing project?
- How does the pricing scale with an increased number of users?
But, of course, project management software is only as good as the quality of the input data so let’s talk about the metrics…
Startup businesses have to define their key metrics accurately if they want to deliver successful projects.
A metric is a quantifiable unit that enables you to track a specific process. Look at project management metrics as critical success factors you need to work on for your startup to get to where you want it to be.
Metrics identify the pain points in your operations and guide your decisions towards fixing them and consequently achieving business growth.
For instance, a report by DecisionWise found that 53% of surveyed companies track employee engagement as a critical metric. Employee engagement has a significant impact on their overall performance and, therefore, on the company’s success and growth.
Without defining your key metrics, you’re not making data-backed decisions but trusting your gut instinct instead. And instincts can be wrong.
So, how do you define the key metrics for your projects?
You can start by asking yourself what determines the success of your project management process and how can you measure it?
Here are two staple examples of team management metrics that startups pay close attention to.
Since your employees are critical to the success of your project management and the growth of your startup, tracking their satisfaction is a must.
In a fast-growing environment, it’s easy for employees to feel dissatisfied and out of place.
You can measure their satisfaction by running anonymous surveys after every project, and calculate the employee satisfaction score using this formula:
ESS = (Total Survey Points / The Number of Questions) * 100
The survey should ask employees to score survey points so that you get a number to work with.
Insight into how happy your employees are will allow you to make the necessary steps towards improvement.
Your churn rate is a metric that reveals how many customers stop using your product in a specific period. It is calculated in two different ways: annually and monthly.
Your churn will fluctuate monthly, reflecting your team’s day-to-day efforts in retaining customers, whereas your annual churn rates will give you an overview of long-term trends that those efforts resulted in.
That’s why both rates are essential.
Churn Rate = (Leaving Users / Total Number of Users) * 100
Let’s say you had 1000 users, and 20 of them stopped using your software at the end of the month. Your monthly churn rate would be 2%.
You can then calculate your annual churn rate by dividing the number of churned users by the total number of your users at the start of the period.
So if you have 5000 users and 300 users have left your service, your annual churn rate would be 6%.
A successful project manager always plans ahead.
When startups are going through rapid growth, it’s wise to plan for the upcoming stages so you can make the most of your momentum.
By mapping out your next steps, you can prepare your team for the road ahead.
With a structured plan, you won’t be thwarted by unpredictable challenges that might arise as you work towards your goals.
According to data by the National Business Capital, 50% of startups in the US shut down within the first 5 years of their launch.
The same research found that 70% of startups are likely to fail by their 10th year of business.
However, effectiveplanning reduces business risks significantly. You can assess which circumstances pose the greatest threat to your business and take minimal calculated risks. You can also create contingencies in case something goes wrong.
Here are the basic steps you need to take when devising a plan.
Assess which are the greatest risks for your startup. Knowing what can decimate your growth will help you keep clear of any dangers and impact your project management decisions.
For example, running out of funds is the main reason most startups fail, according to research. If a business move poses too significant a risk, you would be wise not to rush.
Set schedules for your project management. If you’re doing your job right, your startup can attract a barrage of new inquiries, assignments, and projects in a relatively short period of time.
By properly scheduling all your activities, you can remain organized even as you experience rapid growth.
Introduce flexibility in your planning. Startups adjust their plans towards meeting a sales goal. If they fail to do so, they risk failure. With flexibility, you don’t have to re-write your plan if something unexpected goes wrong.
Taking on the project manager role in startups is challenging. The project dynamics are constantly changing, and you can’t afford to make big mistakes.
However, even rapid growth is nothing you can’t handle if you stick to these tips.
When you build the right project management infrastructure, define and track your key metrics and plan for future challenges, you will always be one step ahead.
Lisa Michaels is a freelance writer, editor, and a thriving content marketing consultant from Portland. Being self-employed, she does her best to stay on top of the current trends in business and tech. Feel free to connect with her on Twitter @LisaBMichaels.