Whether you manage a small team in a startup, a midsize company or are an independent entrepreneur facing the challenges of commercializing on your own, good project management is essential for your success. Bringing a rehabilitative or assistive device to market is difficult, and in a small organization there may not be room for a designated or professional project manager. Here are some tips and tricks for managing small teams for the busy, multifaceted entrepreneur.
In any project, the biggest assets you can harness are resources. For anyone managing projects, resources can be described in the Triple Constraint: Cost, Time and Scope.
Cost includes the budget for supplies, facilities and personnel. Time is the schedule of the project and the amount of labor hours. Scope includes the project size, goals and requirements. Availability of resources can make your project a success or may cause restrictions or delays. Thus, it is important for a project manager to be aware of the Triple Constraint, know its breadth and monitor any changes along the way. You will find there are plenty of articles and even text books detailing methods to monitor schedules and budgets; however, as I have found here at TREAT, the best resource and your biggest asset is your team.
Your team may increase your costs, but they are the key players in keeping schedules on track and accomplishing big milestones. A good, small-team PM is a team player and a chameleon. They know all aspects of the project, can anticipate roadblocks, congratulate success, adapt to project changes, dive in where necessary and step back when appropriate.
To be a good team player, the PM must have team buy in, which can be accomplished with a few simple communication tools.
The first tool is inclusion. Every project should start with a kick off meeting to which everyone involved attends. At the kick off, expectations are laid out and responsibilities are defined. From this point forward, weekly status updates should be delivered via email or in a short group meeting. These updates should detail milestones that have been accomplished and those that are approaching, any changes to schedule or scope and the overall health of the project. Effective updates will keep team members working together toward a common goal even when their jobs differ drastically.
The second tool is being your team’s number one fan. As their biggest supporter you will encourage individuals to bring their expertise to the group, do their best work and collaborate to meet project requirements and deadlines. Teams do not respond well to “You should have done this differently.” But teams do respond well to “Great work on this piece, did you consider this?” Rooting for your team is one of the best practices you can keep as a PM, showing you are engaged and eager to share in their success. Which you should be, as their success is ultimately, your success.
Megan Yeigh is a TREAT Entrepreneur Fellow who is currently pursuing a Master of Engineering Management from Dartmouth College. Prior to TREAT, she received a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering with a concentration in biomedical studies from the University of Vermont. Megan has strong interests in product management, prosthetics, orthotics and the rehabilitation device industry.