Project Planning Guide For Startups


Dev Cham

August 9, 2019

Development | Startup

I am going to be very real here, and there are things that you may not like and here it goes. I have never seen a single project complete on time when I have worked for small to big corporates, with vendors and agencies, and even here at Smartly Built. And, I have spoken to 100’s of Founders and Startups – and the story remains the same. 

Development is hard and takes time

Every good developer can really think and code logic for about 4-5 hours a day of stuff they have never worked on before. Anyone else telling you that they will code for 8-10 hours a day straight is just full of shit. So, think about how you are budgeting time.

Eliminate Playing Multiple Roles

Most developers are playing multiple roles of designer, architect, coders, tester, and even business analysts. If you are questioning your developers – “Does this make business sense?” you are de-focusing your developer out of context.

Re-work Is A Pain That Hurts Hard

Yes, I can’t tell you the number of times a code or function has to be re-looked at due to compliance irregularities, missing requirements, not matching the experience, unoptimized algorithms, or just not looking through entirely for all dependencies and functionalities from day 1. 

Everybody Can Plan. Execution Is Where It Is At

This is not the problem. But, the reality is maybe not be looked across so transparently as it should be.

Align Values Within Your Ecosystem

Here are some terms of the values we expect from ourselves and our partners.

  • Stay flexible with changes until the customer is satisfied. We try covering lots of ground early on – like you have seen in the document already. The document is under review by the customer as well so we are also inclined to make sure there is no major scope creep. Small creep even we will accept. Icon here, icon there, pop-up, navigation experience.. etc.
  • There could be fewer or more screens — this depends on customer wants and experiences before or after prototypes. If it’s drastic new functionality we can revise the scope – but you will have to deliver this on a project basis.
  • You will help developers understand functionality and experience. You need to be available for this handoff during the project and answer any questions.
  • You will also review development completion and make sure that the experience you are suggesting is actually the right experience as intended.

Structure It Better And For Faster

It’s about the structure of the team. Here is what I would implement for a project like Jacktrade.

  • Systems engineering – for API and data structure engineering / FE engineering
  • Lead architect – focused on R&D, open-source evaluation, pr review, code quality, and optimization focus.
  • Lead developer – to lead the project and doing at hand code
  • Software developers – no one less than 2 years of experience, or exceptional candidates if before 2 years.

I would accompany this team with
– 1 QA manager
– 1 QA for every 3 developers (1FE, 2 BE)
– 1 Business analyst
– 1 Product analyst
– 1 Ux designer

Rapid Decision To Prioritization

There are 4 solutions to every problem:

1. Accept it
2. Change it
3. Leave it
4. Reject it

Managing Day To Day Is Where Its At

Let me offer 3 suggestions for you to manage your day today:

  1. The most productive people I know spend more time thinking about WHAT to work on… than HOW to be efficient.
  2. Low-productivity people do exactly the opposite, obsessing about tactics and to-do lists instead of systematically deciding WHAT is worth their time.
  3. In other words, you can be highly EFFICIENT, but if you’re working on the wrong things, it doesn’t matter. Think about that carefully — which one are you?

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