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The Implications of Project Management In Entrepreneurship

sabeen mahmood murder
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I got a PMP certification in 2012 when I was 30. Friends around questioned my decision arguing what does an entrepreneur have to do with Project Management when a degree related to business operations such as HRM was more relevant. I know I made the right decision.

If I am asked what value PMP has added to me, my answer would be looking at a situation holistically, analyzing available resources and then structuring work accordingly. I have learnt to pre-empt and ‘switch gears’ as the situation calls.

To state as a one-liner, project management calls for a project with a definite end date to be divided into five stages. Let’s see how each applies to entrepreneurship and what can be learnt from it:

  1. Initiating

In this phase, the base of any project is laid out and includes market identification, stakeholder analysis and drafting project charts.

Before entering the market or for that matter, planning for your startup, get to know the market well. Meet relevant people already in the industry to understand the business needs and requirements. If you are an entrepreneur, make sure your ego doesn’t come between learning.

You have to conduct a stakeholders analysis – for startups engaged in app or platform development, the users will be your biggest stakeholder. Try answering questions such as ‘Is there a need for the product?’ or ‘Am I going to solve a problem with this?’

Now to the wordier part – write down the project statement, its scope and objectives. In short, describe what all exactly needs to be achieved and why. Many startups skip this stage but let me reiterate its importance. What initially seems as a theoretical drag, brings clarity and gives you focus and direction at a later stage. 

  1. Planning

At this stage, you identify measurable goals and deliverables (that’s setting milestones) and decide on a way of getting there by drafting a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

A WBS basically enlists all activities in a logical hierarchical sequence and sets an expected timeline for each. The purpose it has served for me is to remain organized. When the structure isn’t being followed, it indicates something is ‘wrong’ and must be fixed before other activities get effected.  

Also, the planning stage includes developing a budget. Remember to count for all risks besides financial costs – it would be beneficial to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for this so you can allocate risks better.

  1. Execution

The most important element of this stage is drive’ and ‘passion’. If the team, which includes yourself, is not convinced about the project or is not committed to it, this phase will not be a success!

Calling a team meeting to discuss ideas and ensuring everyone is on the same page is not a bad idea.

  1. Monitoring & Controlling

The logic of this phase is to check for efficiency and effectiveness during the process instead of waiting for the close to analyze results.

By comparing project variables for example costs, users and revenue against projected values, analyze to identify (potential) lags and come up with corrective measures at the earliest. This may mean fixing bugs or releasing updates. Do not waste time.

What do you do if there are large deviations between the projected and actual values? Go back to the ‘wordy’ bit in the first phase to get focus!

  1. Closing

This phase deals with post-project documentation and analysis. For startups, it can be a great opportunity to learn and compile a do’s and don’ts list for future projects. You may see that user base fluctuated with seasons or identified a particular lag in internal procedures or more seriously, the need to make changes in the team. Put in an effort to document all necessary details of the project.