How to Manage Your Startup’s Projects More Efficiently

March 30, 2016

8:29 pm

When you are at the initial stage of launching your own venture, everything sounds so exciting. Is there anything better than knowing you have the idea, which you are about to mold into a real product?

Yet at this point, you are likely to suffer from “scope creep” – a.k.a. the uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project’s scope. What used to be one clear idea turns into a tangled web of various concepts and actions, which you are bound to unravel before you can start planning the product launch.

Sound familiar? Well, we have a few actionable tips to help you get through the mess and develop a simple, clear project roadmap to success.

Have a Marketing Requirements Document

To keep a razor sharp focus during your pre-launch days, you need to have an MRD in place and visible to you at all times. For those unfamiliar with the concept, here are the details that should be in this file:

  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • What is your product?
  • Why do they want to get your product?
  • How have your competitors addressed the same customer needs?

Having the answers to these essential questions jotted down will help you with creating a blueprint for your product. You now know exactly how it should look like and focus on making steps in the right direction away from the “scope creep”. On top, you can send out your MRD along with the project brief to any external contractors and partners to make sure they are on the same page with you.

Focus on the Essentials

Did you memorize your MRD? Good. Now ditch all the tasks that don’t bring your product another step closer to the market.

Any new feature you are planning to implement should be 100 percent related to the project in large. During your first year don’t waste time on nitpicking at tiny changes unless they are significantly affecting user experience. Create a great, appealing product, but don’t waste too much time on polishing it up when you have more important tasks to handle.

Listen to your community and gather feedback, but don’t rush into making the tweaks one user asked for immediately. Keep and analyze the requests prior to rolling off any costly improvements and settling minor issues, when you might be ignoring larger perils.

Keep Your Team Accountable

You may be not the only overwhelmed person in the room. Take a look at your team. How are they handling the pre-launch pressure? Does it look like their moral fading and productivity decreases? They might be suffering from the same “scope creep” just like you.

Don’t schedule meetings for the sake of meetings. Instead, evaluate the team’s current projects and break them into smaller chunks. People are feeling more motivated when they accomplish small tasks daily/weekly rather than one huge project over a long time span.

Re-communicate your startup's main priorities at this stage and help your peeps to re-prioritize tasks on their to-do list accordingly. Be the one, who accomplishes all to-dos daily and sets an example for everyone else to follow.

Got a major side project heading your way e.g. an important conference? Consider hiring or assigning a dedicated project coordinator to handle all the related tasks with the right tools, rather than adding more chores to multiple teammates.

Don’t forget to praise individual efforts and highlight accomplishments (big or small). For example, you can send out a Friday personalized “thanks” notes to top hustlers or make 5-min morning meetings to briefly cover the goals accomplished during the past week.

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Dianna is a former ESL teacher and World Teach volunteer, currently living in France. She's slightly addicted to apps and viral media trends and helps different companies with product localization and content strategies. You can tweet her at @dilabrien