The Holy Grail of startup management does not exist. But I found something better!

Authors: Zbigniew Waz

First - communication

Seriously. This is the basis of everything - from shopping in a vegetable garden to managing a global company. So, how to organize effective communication in a startup to save time, money and… have a lot of peace? If you manage a startup or any project, you know how important it is to communicate in a team. The more engaged people are, the greater the challenge of effective communication and putting plans into action without delay. If your partner is an external company (maybe in another country), the risk of complications grows - each organization has a different culture of communication. This often means specific problems.

BAR vs. Finns

One of our clients is a Finnish startup, for which we have created the FLOUD (LINK) application. This app allows you to buy tickets for events, parties and concerts. It allows users to keep track of their friends' activities - what tickets they have bought and what events are currently being selected. In addition, the application also has extensive social functionality – it allows users to chat with the organizers and other event participants.

Before Action Review - how to prepare yourself and your client to work together

In co-operation with the Finnish startup, we have successfully implemented and tested BAR techniques, the Before Action Review, which I described in the previous article. During the planning and resource gathering phase of the project (BAR), we have accurately defined the objectives, deadlines, expected results and resources we have, and the responsibilities for the various phases and components. All in one simple table;

(Click to  see)

Contrary to our intuition, the key column in this table is not WHAT and WHEN, but… WHY. It allows the project participants to understand why each element is important.
This makes each one feel otherwise responsible, seeing their role in the whole project. BAR perfectly captures the inner meaning of the whole project. The coding manager, project manager, graphic designer and clients see that they have a common goal. Suddenly, a precise time schedule becomes justified, and the deadlines take on a deeper meaning. You have to answer the question: why do I have to do it properly?

What's more, BAR offers a useful mechanism for defining action scenarios where things do not go according to plan. It allows us to keep cool in crisis situations and gives us a sense of security. It enables shorter response times for changes. Our real discovery in the context of the optimization of work time however, is a new approach to division and delegation.

BAR, meaning another type of project management

In most IT projects, the key person involved in every stage of the job is the project manager or product owner, who coordinates communication and watches over the entire flow of information and tasks, in other words: ‘the flow’. In the meantime, thanks to BAR, the role of PMs is efficiently broken down into several people.

How it works?

BAR defines the responsibilities of individuals for specific areas of implementation precisely, which greatly simplifies communication and in the event of problems, directs the client to a specific person. Consequently, the project does not have a single manager to which all tasks are assigned to; instead, the customer contacts a team of well-defined professionals directly, which reduces response time and the time it takes to solve a problem compared to projects managed by project managers. With this approach, we simplify communication and avoid the constant back and forth patch and accept process. Each of us has a different know-how and experience that we bring to a project - BAR accurately identifies this expertise and optimizes the work flow to get the most out us each person involved.

Right in the beginning we precisely determined what problems (technological, organizational, administrative, business) may appear in specific channels. We also set a time when specific people in our team were at the client’s disposal. This allowed us to create very technical instructions about our communications. It was accompanied by an accurate, weekly schedule:

(Click on see)

Thanks to this solution, communications in the FLOUD project was impeccable.

This is what Janne Haila writes about this model of cooperation: We rate the communication and workflow in this model as very high. The time we spent in setting the rules of cooperation has payed off many times over! This collaborative structure made us work with Leaware on a daily basis as if it was with a team in the same building. We have used these collaborative principles before, but never in such orderly form. These techniques are very helpful, especially in cooperation with remote teams, where finding mutual expectations and checking results is very important. Thanks to it both sides feel safe and secure, and they can devote all their efforts to the completion of the project.

The project was a success, but we had to do our homework - AAR - After Action Review. Was this Holy Grail exactly what we were looking for? I will tell in the third part of my BAR confession.