Startup Essentials: Project and task management

As part of the engagement with MVP portfolio companies based outside Bangalore we do a 4 days of face to face interaction with the team every month, along with the time spent on phone, e-mail, chat etc. Currently, I am in the middle of the monthly interaction with the fachak team, which is based in North campus area in New Delhi.

Yesterday while working thru the list of items on the agenda the topic of “Efficient Project & Task Management” came up. I shared with them the simplified philosophy that I have kind of settled with during the last few years. This philosophy has worked for me with some modifications in various places like madhouse, seventymm and now MVP. Vaneet and Sarab from fachak also shared their thoughts and experience on the topic.

Initial setup

This can be done using spreadsheet, documents or a online tool like deskaway. At MVP we use deskaway to manage all projects and all portfolio companies.

  • Make a MECE (Mutually exclusive Collectively exhaustive) list of all projects that require active tracking
    • For example at MVP we create one project for each portfolio company
  • Make a MECE (Mutually exclusive Collectively exhaustive) list of categories that can appear within each project and add the categories under the projects. See the image below for categories used in MVP’s project for one particular portfolio company

  • Make a list of people who will be working across all projects

Task identification

  • MOST IMPORTANT: As soon as a new task comes up, identify the category to which the task belongs and add the task to the appropriate project, under the identified category.
  • The tasks can pop in your head, come via e-mail, via phone, during a discussion or some other way, but ensure that they are captured. This is the step where most teams fail. When they start they list all tasks but fail to do it continuously . So maintain the discipline if you want to make this work.
  • See some sample tasks added under categories below

  • Assign task owner , priority and expected deadline (ensure every thing is realistic)

Daily / Weekly planning

  • Look at list of all pending tasks
  • Walk thru each task with following guidelines
    • Ensure correct priority
      • Urgent/P1: Work on it today
      • High/P2: Work on it today if no P1 is pending or work can not be done on any P1 task
      • Medium / Low / P3: Do nothing, this is laundry list of all identified tasks and all pending ideas that have been collected
    • Ensure proper ownership ( the owner should know what to do and should have time for the same)
  • Budget enough time for unplanned activities don’t assume all time can be given to planned tasks
    • For example if you are a startup founder and work 12 hrs a day, you can easily assume that 50% of your time will go towards unplanned activities. So only 6 hrs of planned work.

Execution

  • Start of the day every one in the team should have list of P1/P2 tasks and should work only on those for most of their time
  • As tasks get done , mark it on the list as done and continue working on other P1/P2 tasks
  • Add update notes on tasks which were fully or partially done or attempted

Progress review

  • Do periodic reviews with each team member
  • Have a list of all P1/P2 task which were to be worked on
    • One by one review each task
      • Done : confirm completion
      • Partially done: understand what is done and what is pending and why? What are road blocks , create ¬†action items to fix it
      • Attempted : same as above
      • Not attempted : same as above

Share your experiences on Project and task management below..

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2 Responses to “Startup Essentials: Project and task management”

  1. DeskAway Blog Says:

    Startup Essentials: Project and task management…

    See how Sameer & Nandini of Morpheus Venture Partners use DeskAway to manage their portfolio companies.
    ……

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