Strategic adaptability: Project management for startups

“You need to bring order to the chaos.”

Of all the many tools and methods in a project manager’s toolbox the most critical skills for the startup professional may be adaptability and strategic thinking.

“At an established company you can just implement a framework,” says Sanjay Bhatia, director of program management at Exabeam and a former project management director at Oracle, SugarSync, and Intuit. He teaches several courses in the Project and Program Management certificate program, including Managing Projects at Startup Companies, which will be the next two Saturdays.

At a startup there is no project management office with established processes. There is usually just a fast-growing, rapid-paced organization made of people wearing different hats.

Bringing order

“It reaches a point in time where people feel a need to streamline things,” Bhatia says. “You are basically the one who defines that, creates everything from scratch. You need to bring order to the chaos.”

Managing Projects at Startup Companies is a two-Saturday course for people interested in adapting their skills to the wily world of startups. Bhatia shows how to adapt traditional techniques to an organization with a ramped-up timeline.

“It’s a different skillset,” he says. “You basically have to figure out how things should work, to think strategically.”

Project manager as business strategist

Bhatia begins by talking with key stakeholders, asking them about their challenges. Because everything is new, the startup project manager puts on a problem-solving hat and works directly with executives.

“You’ll have a high visibility at the executive level. When you work at a startup, things are pivoting. Speed of execution is key. You need to do more with less. That brings its own challenge.”

Of course, nothing works without alignment. Bhatia is always fine tuning the new processes. “You will wear different hats as a project manager. It basically makes you an entrepreneur. As a result, a project manager is more than just a job.”

Course details

Interested in learning more about how to fast-track your project management? Sign up for Managing Projects at Startup Companies, which meets Jan. 12 and 19.

“This course teaches you modern skills, tools and techniques for effectively managing projects in a highly dynamic environment,” Bhatia says. “And most importantly, this course will teach you how to think as an entrepreneur while executing projects.”


Explore our Project and Program Management certificate program or contact us directly: (408) 861-3860 or

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