Riku, name changed, is a CEO of an early stage startup founded about a year a go . As an undergrad student of political science , he didn't participate nor completed , or learnt about technology projects before — even at college level. He found himself awake in the reality of being a CEO of a project which he initiated with his friends. He doesn’t know what an agile is and before setting on a journey to explore on that Riku asks, ” Do I need to know and then live by agile?”. Unabridged, comes from a message delivered to the Facebook page of Entrepreneurs in Finland, which if you haven't given your thumbs up for yet is : https://www.facebook.com/entrepreneursinfinland/
Dear Riku, you are always welcome to pose a question here. We all don't have the absolute skills required to start a business. That's why we need to help each-other as a community.
Dear Riku, as you are a new enterant to the technology industry, you may not have the grasp of the big picture. Things are changing very perpetually. Disruptive technologies are hampering the product development life cycle of SME’s as well as giant corporations. The business landscape is dynamic, competitive and exhibit very varying industry specific standards, ethics and level playing fields. Product life cycle is decreasing. Nevertheless, customers pace of requirement might alter on the spur of the moment. This and many other intertwined challenges that are common in the industry have got not just only early stage startups but well established, giant and renown corporations in to a constant need for hiring the right product/project manager who understand and exhibit the big picture. Early stage startups often don’t have the money to hire Mr /Mrs Big picture. Consequently, not just CEO's but founder’s knowledge and application of agility would play out as an important factor in leading any startup project as well as support investors decisions when analyzing teams.
So, why would early stage startups need to live by the optimum process benefit that agility brings forth?
There are ample points with regard to the benefit of agile project management. I’m not trying to short list only the best I presume . I’ve just only fast written down what popped in to my mind this morning.
- Startups are in the highest level of internal as well as external uncertainty. Internal uncertainties are those that can be controlled by the PM such as scope, schedule and cost while external uncertainties are those that can’t be controlled or mitigated by the PM such as industry specific laws , markets and etc.
- Seldom do startups fulfill the unique expertise needed for a specific project. An agile team exhibit a culture of redirecting and assigning an already existing resources and skills as per the real time need encountered.
- Startups don’t have an already existing mature product lines , or business practices, from which a new project can be shaped. Often, startups have one flagship product or services the delicate management of which will determine not just the project but the existence of the company.
- While all the primary roles in the project should be filled in with the right skill, startups may not have adequate resources to do so. Many at times, Startups rely on multiple secondary roles assigned to two or more cross functional cohesive team members. In startups, secondary as well as tertiary roles are important as it would affect and influence the operation and strategy of the startup respectively.
- Social or political projects are waterfall in nature. Startups don't have enough resources to waste on planing alone. In other words, a startup can't bite off more than it can chew. Subsequently, test as you develop and refine as you iterate is a resource effective strategy customary in Agile project management.
- In startups, it's a must that you produce something. With that something that you have developed, you can further enhance based on the consumer, investor and coach analysis you have made. Remember that starting up is always about starting something and deliver iteratively. The deadlines in mandays, sprints, milestones or whatsoever units are key measures of what you have delivered and improved.
- Projects may need to be terminated for uncontrolled but foreseeable reasons. Funding might dry up. Offices may be moved. Startups are so vulnerable to change that potential effects of change should be mitigated with a very holistic contingency plans. Founder or CEO who sees to the day today activities of his/her teams won't have difficulty when making spontaneous decisions.
- The best menu that you have on Agile PM is Scrum where team members would meet up to impart about their progress and challenges in the project. Apart from cohesion, Scrum helps all issues put out on the table for an open discussion followed by resolution.
- Startups are always looking for investors. One of the key attributes that investors would check and balance is agility of teams. Many at times, investors are well acquainted ; have had or still have other projects, startups and business in which team and process agility are of a paramount importance. As a result, if you can't sell your team as an agile then never follow up a positive pitch feedback with an investor unless the investor is solely after your idea.
Agile has a lot to offer , not just only to early stage startups, but also to giant corporations.
Dear Riku, mentioned above are just only a few. There are lots of reasons as to why agility is imperative for startups as well as prominent corporations comprising of different units. I suggest you take a course or two on project management at the university while at the same time rigorously reading on Agile Project Management which is very different from classical project management. This shall liberate you from learning by doing lots of mistakes which can't be afforded in startups. Now that i'm moved by your questions, I will get back with similar topics for wider readership later. Hang in there Riku!
"Striving to stir positive ideas on the meeting table, blogs and groups. "