Do Small Teams Need Systems?
Today’s post is the first in a new series we’re calling Project Management in the Wild. We’re reaching out to the LiquidPlanner customer community to hear, and share, their real-life project management stories.
Got a story that might help other teams think outside the box? Send it to info @ liquidplanner.com.
This week I spoke with Bill Lange, CEO of Full Slate, about how the young start-up collaborates, communicates, and manages projects with a lean team of four.
Tell me a little bit about Full Slate. Where have you been and where are you now?
Full Slate got started just over a year ago. There were four of us on the founding team, and there are still four of us today. In addition to me, we have a CTO, VP of Marketing, and VP of Finance. We ended beta a few months ago, so we have been intentionally running with a very lean team during this first phase. We’ve been heavily focused on product development up to this point, and we still are, but we’re also starting to ramp up our business development and sales efforts.
What’s project management like with just the four of you?
For one thing, we all work virtually. So for us, the SaaS application of LiquidPlanner is a huge benefit. We meet twice a week in person to go over task lists, make decisions, and clarify priorities. In between these meetings everyone manages their own work and we communicate as needed by phone, email, and Skype. Although we don’t have very complex project management needs and are not managing multiple interdependencies or anything like that, we definitely need a system to keep us on track. In fact, early on we struggled with prioritizing and keeping ourselves honest in terms of delivery dates. LiquidPlanner has made it much easier to keep ourselves honest.
Does all that independence mean you each have your own way of looking at tasks?
Each individual is responsible for managing his or her own tasks, but we share a common view of the big picture. We look at pending tasks in terms of their priority and put every task into one of three task folders in LiquidPlanner: top priority, which includes things we need to get done in the next two weeks; the holding area, which includes items that are important but not high enough priority for the next two weeks; and postponed, which includes tasks and projects we want to look at but that are on the back burner.
That sounds nice and straightforward, but how do you think you’ll manage as your needs change and the team grows?
We are by no means pushing the envelope in terms of how we are using LiquidPlanner, but we find it one of the most useful tools around. We get just the right amount of structure we need for now and know we can gradually tap into the other features as we need to. The balance between clunky, complicated tools and flying by the seat of your pants with email and Excel is what’s key. LiquidPlanner has struck that balance.
Full Slate helps local service providers – like massage therapists, beauty salons, plumbers and electricians – use the Web to fill their appointment books. They offer online appointment booking that integrates into the service provider’s website, online directory listings and advertising campaigns.