There’s a great new article over on the bootstrapping blog all about the benefits of being short of time. Over the years, I’ve seen lots of projects expand to the time available – they end up taking months when they could (and should) have been completed by the right staff in just a couple of weeks.
The causes of this waste are rarely intentional. However, while every medium or large company has its share of slackers, it’s often the split of job roles that leads to the biggest problems with efficiency. Although everyone often appears to want a project to succeed and to be seen to be helping things along as much as possible, if there are too many cooks, the broth will always come out spoilt.
Take a web design project, for example. In a small or medium sized company, your classic structure would require the following “resources”:
- A project manager
- One or two designers (depending upon the scale of the project)
- An HTML guy
- One or two back-end developers
- One or two systems guys responsible for server support once the project is live.
- One or two customer services staff to field calls from site users
This can easily be reduced to two people. A personable, business-savvy developer can talk to the client (or the rest of the business) and still keep on top of a project. An mature developer should also have experience with deploying real sites into production environments, so he’ll know how to cope with server load and scalability. Support calls should be minimal and best handled by the person who knows the system from inside to out. (And if support becomes a big drain on time, the developer can probably set up a system to help customers to help each other, such as Satisfaction).
Combine that with a personable designer who actually knows and cares about the web, and you’ve got yourself an unstoppable two-man team! The bonus is that if your team needs to go to a meeting, it’ll be highly technical and highly creative.
It’s still all about your employees
It’s not easy to find the right kind of employees who can cope with the challenges of an entrepreneurial environment. However, without the right people, and the right environment for them to work in, it’s impossible to produce anything efficiently.
Never make a project manager your first hire unless you have a huge client that will need nursing through every poor decision. If you can build a team of people who have solid skills, can manage their own time and have a passion for what you’re trying to achieve, being short of time becomes a blessing in disguise.