Managing the Manager

FortressLearning_Manage-ProjectsThere comes a time in every start-up’s journey where you will inevitably have to go outside the team you’ve assembled (which could be just you) to get something done, whether it be to build a web site, mobile app, architectural/product designs, etc. Yes, we know, while it’s nice to think that you can do everything in-house there are some things worth spending money on. After all, this one item could be the key to winning over investors and customers alike. It’s important to be honest with yourself and understand your limitations, as employing an expert in any one field can be the smartest move you’ll ever make.

However, with hiring a third party comes third party problems. Problems that you are going to have to manage, even though you’ve technically hired said third party to manage them for you. This doesn’t mean the company you’ve hired isn’t great at what they do. It more comes down to a difference in philosophy (of how it should be done) or an understanding of what the needs are, in terms of priority. Compounding these intellectual elements is simply the speed at which things are able to get done. As a start-up you will likely be able to work faster than any other business you work with. This can be the most frustrating aspect of any working relationship you enter, and something you will want to factor into your timeline. Remember the people assigned to your project are generally going to be part of a team, that’s part of a larger group, that’s part of a larger division/company. They’re also likely working on other projects simultaneously, which means you’re probably not going to get the attention you think you deserve. Whereas you can make decisions and finish tasks at warp speed, they will likely have a protocol and corporate system in place, which involves a hierarchy of decision makers.

In the end you will need to constantly manage the manager assigned to your project. Consider this person the newest member of your start-up. Whether keeping them aligned to your own philosophy, priority of needs or simply the schedule, the biggest mistake you can make is not being involved on a day-to-day basis. If you hand over the keys and limit your involvement until the project is completed you will increase 1) the number of revisions needed to be made and 2) the likelihood of a delay (more than what you had anticipated) that you can’t afford. Remember your project can get lost in their way of doing things. It’s OK to accept their ideas and feedback (it can make for better results) but keep it your project.

Prolonged delays cost money, deflate moral, and increase the risk of losing potential investors who are impatient or on a timeline (it’s not wise to think they don’t have other opportunities to consider besides the one your presenting). This can ultimately leave you without the necessary capital to keep your momentum going, leaving your idea breathless and falling short of the finish line.

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