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What Founders, CEOs, and PMs can do to Keep Projects on Schedule

Perfectionist or not – there always seems to be something else to add, another detail to wax out, and things that prevent us from project completions or website launches. Does monitoring and guiding the project help? Yes, in fact – that may be the most concentrated explanation of a manager’s role one could possibly find. 

But nobody can predict the full and total scope of a project before it begins. Managing changes to the original task at hand can be critical to keeping projects on the right path. However, there are specific methods that the most productive product managers use to decrease the number of these rabbit holes along the way.

Let’s remember that for developers – the most productive part of the day is normally represented by deep work – long, uninterrupted sessions of focus. As individuals who manage these creations, we have a responsibility to let them focus on their tasks at hand. The more messages and notifications that we pop into the corner of the screen, the worse their focus becomes.

It’s certainly a balance. Developers and creators need to focus. Project managers and founders need to stay in the know. Companies lose direction anytime the pendulum swings too far in one direction.

So how do you manage this balance? Start by looking at how you’re functioning as a team. How do you communicate within the office? How do you stay updated with projects throughout the day? Project management tools, issue tracking software, instant communication mediums. There are hundreds of possible combinations of answers.

But no matter how many incredible software resources you use, no project management tool can illuminate unforeseen surprises as well as an employee can provide through regular one-on-one communication. Again, it’s all about balance.

We personally swear by issue tracking tools like Jira and messaging systems like Slack – for both communication within the office and remote communication. Instead of memorizing the layout, UX, and passwords of 10 different productivity softwares, simply choose the ones that integrate into a single platform together.

The CEO of Beyond Meat recently said “It takes a lot of money to buy a Tesla — It takes $4.29 to buy this. And you can basically be making the same statement about who you are, what you care about, where your values are.” In that same vein, your software purchasing decisions shape the workday for your employees. These tools you give to your employees directly explain what you expect and ask of them.

Companies who invest their capital in tools like Jira, Asana, Slack, and Superhuman are behaving in this fashion. These investments are sending an important message to their employees – “At X company, we value productivity, we prize communication, and we attach importance to organizational skills”.

So outside of software, what can we do to keep projects on schedule?

Instead of planning the development process to a tee, recognize that hiccups are going to throw your plan off schedule. Instead, project managers and founders should start with a minimum viable product that addresses their base functions and needs. From there, you should branch out to fulfill whatever matches your mission.

You can also track the amount of time each individual spends on each task. We recommend organizing this information bi-monthly to better understand the amount of time necessary for future projects. This method also offers insights into your developer’s strengths and weaknesses.

Last but not least – know when to skip on the meetings. There’s a popular quote from Naval Ravikant that we turn to quite often at Nextup – 

“Unnecessary meetings (and most are) are a mutually-assured-destruction of time. Learning how to avoid them is a prerequisite of doing anything great.” 

As a project manager or CEO, your job is rooted in leadership. Leadership is a compound word (leader & ship). ‘Leader’ is defined as someone who guides a group, organization, or country. ‘Ship’ is defined as a vessel that takes a group of people from point A to point B.

Together, the word represents an individual whose role is to guide a group from point A to point B. There might be a few places to stop along the way, but it’s up to you to guide them. How are you going to do it?

Logan Vantrease

Customer Success Manager at Nextup.ai