Coordinating the many facets of a new business can be a bit of a juggling act. An entrepreneur is expected to line up manufacturers, deploy marketing campaigns, and manage back-end operations, all on a limited budget. As a startup begins to grow, keeping all of these processes going can become almost impossible.
Project management is a crucial part of business today, but a talented project manager averages $50 an hour. Most businesses can't afford to shell out six figures for an experienced professional to oversee their projects in the early days. Still, it's important to recognize when it's time to turn your projects over to an expert.
Despite best intentions, business owners often find it nearly impossible to hit deadlines on a consistent basis. Everything seems to take longer than originally planned, whether you're handling the work in house or outsourcing it to third-party providers. The first question you'll likely be asked by investors and collaborators is what your deployment deadline is. If you continue to miss those deadlines, you'll quickly lose credibility.
A software tool like InLoox can help you automate the process of staying ahead of your deadlines. "Visualizing your target dates provides more transparency for the entire team and with a clearly outlined project schedule in front of you, you'll be more likely to hit your goals," says Andreas Tremel, co-founder of InLoox. As your team grows, you can share those dates with your team as a constant reminder that they have milestones to hit. If they miss the first and second milestone, you'll be better able to adjust your projected end date well in advance, which will allow you to make more accurate promises.
It takes multiple people to bring a product to market. As teams grow, they tend to branch off into separate groups that you'll be required to manage. Your designers will come up with the plan and your manufacturers or software developers will bring it to fruition. Once you have a prototype, you'll require a quality assurance team to test it and make suggestions for improvements.
As a startup continues to grow, leaders will find themselves constantly coordinating these teams in order to make sure the project comes together. Along with everything else he's tasked with doing, a leader will be required to facilitate communication and settle disagreements between teams. Entrepreneurs often realize just how much of this work can be handed over to a skilled project manager, who will provide cohesion between units to make sure projects stay on course.
As expensive as a professional project manager is, businesses can often calculate the cost savings they'd enjoy by having one in place. By delaying its go-live dates, a business loses the money it would be making by actually having the product out there, where customers can purchase it and use it. Factor in the damage a business does to its reputation by failing to live up to its promises, and a project manager is a worthwhile investment.
However, at an average salary well over $90,000, an experienced full-timer can often be well above a startup's budget. Instead, as a business grows it could consider employing a project manager at the beginning of his career, when salaries are significantly lower. Startups could also consider outsourcing project management to an off-site professional who can interview team members and take over on an as-needed basis. Contract-based project managers can provide timelines and facilitate communication without commanding a full-time salary with benefits.
As a business grows, project managers hold everything together, making sure projects stay on schedule and team members communicate with each other and management. In the early stages, though, businesses often can't afford full-time project management, so it's important to realize that there are now alternatives that can make the process more affordable.