Ask any of your peers, former colleagues, or friends if they’ve struggled with keeping themselves and their team organized. You’ll find that 99% of people will utter a one-worded sentence: yes.
Every company at some point will find itself in organizational disarray—unless your President is Marie Kondo. Even then, decluttering dozens of projects takes more than eliminating the tasks that don’t spark joy.
Companies that start small don’t usually encounter this problem until further down the line. It’s only when there is an influx of business with sizable profits that a team recognizes more employees must be brought on to handle the growth.
At the end of 2019, Potomac had five employees and around $140 million in AUM/AUA; the company was running on Excel and, in one employee’s case, using sticky notes as “reminders.”
The management system was enough to take them to $140 million, but as Chief Executive Officer Manish Khatta likes to repeat, “What’s going to take us to the billion-dollar firm?” Notes plastered on a monitor weren’t enough to do that.
At this time, there wasn’t a need for a professional to come in and make monumental changes to a system because there wasn’t a system yet in place. When Chief Marketing Officer Christopher Norton was brought in, his previous experience with Teamwork led the company to (somewhat begrudgingly) implement the software.
“I built out all the marketing projects and used them as examples in training everyone how to use it; it was working fine for a team of five, but as we continued to grow, it started to fall apart,” Norton said.
When the company reached around 15 employees, the software system that once kept everyone organized began disorientating projects as every employee utilized it in their own way. Tripling the number of employees in less than a year—no matter what—will crack a workflow system.
Technology, and how it is used, needs to keep up with expansion. Across the board, Potomac’s ability to consistently manage projects was found wanting. So, a Teamwork consultant was brought in to facilitate a handbook, enabling employees to use the software consistently across the board.
The consultant’s insight allowed each team to expand their use of the software—highlighting new tools and creating consists of workflows. However, tasking every employee to be their own project manager doesn’t translate to seamless success.
Project Management takes more than self-monitoring: sitting down and watching the least demo from Teamwork every week requires taking away from a department’s actual work. There is only so much technology will do for you, and once you’ve reached that limit, it might be time to make a more permanent move.
“There are technology solutions, and then there are people solutions,” Norton said. As with anything, cloud-based technology can enable remote collaboration and simplify tasks. A person can build upon that foundation, finding opportunities for better efficiency and streamlining workflows. “For us, a Project Manager is about more than just making sure each department uses Teamwork consistently, it’s about finding ways improve our collaboration while giving us back time.”
That is what is missing from most people’s view of Project Management, the time it will give you back. Both the technology and staffing components are seen as pure overhead, costing the company money. But executed properly, Project Management is about giving time back to your operations teams, sales teams, marketing teams, etc. Taking task and organizational management off their plate, while enabling them to work more efficiently.
From that perspective, the right Project Management hire could provide the equivalent lift of hiring a new person for each team (or more).
At Potomac, this will have a ripple effect across our entire company; it’s hard to say which team is more excited to have the role join our team (it’s marketing).
When left to their own devices, everyone will do things differently. Save yourself—don’t let this happen; allocate the resources for a strong Project Manager.
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