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Start-Ups

Expert Project Planning Tips for Startups

By Garrett Spence   |    March 21, 2016   |    9:27 AM

Stay Organized and In Control with Project Planning 

As an entrepreneur, you will always be creating projects for yourself and your team. Whether you realize it or not, the business of running a startup is organized around a distinct grouping of tasks and exercises. A good startup needs to be well organized so that your tasks drive completion of your projects and your projects serve the larger goal of accomplishing your business objectives. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs don’t do their due diligence when it comes to project planning and try to do everything at once, which increases stress and drives down productivity over time. Here are some tips from experts on how to stay organized and in control of all your business projects.

1. Define your projects. You need to set up some parameters around your work, and that means defining projects as they emerge. A project is any effort that takes more than a few easy tasks to get done. Writing a business plan? That’s a major project. Expanding your network? That’s a project as well. Growing your business? That’s a major effort that will involve a lot of projects being accomplished in concert with one another. To sort all of this out, write down everything that you are currently working on and everything that you want to be working on. Once you group that list around specific goals, your project list should emerge organically. The next step is to prioritize those projects in terms of which ones are most important and/or productive.

2. Give your projects a start and end date. Projects are not an ongoing effort, so set hard start and end dates for each one. This will help you to sequence projects and prioritize your own work over time. It also allows you to plan around your regular business work and prevent scope creep from making projects go on for longer than they should.

3. Make a plan for each project. A little planning goes a long way when it comes to executing a project successfully. Make a one page plan that delineates the essential problem, benefits to the organization of successful project completion, staffing and budget issues, potential challenges and risks, and a work plan with specific tasks that need to be completed. Use concise language and clear instructions to ensure the success of your project plan.

4. Establish communications protocols. For any project that will involve multiple team members, offsite resources or other personnel, set up communications routines in advance to ensure things don’t fall through the cracks. Will progress be reported weekly or monthly? Does there need to be a Go-To Meeting , WebEx or Skype session for planning purposes and check-ins? Ultimately, who is responsible for the project meeting your milestones?