From Idea to Execution: A Step-by-Step Guide for Crypto Project Managers
Maximize Your Crypto Project’s Potential with These Proven Planning Techniques
Cryptocurrency is a rapidly growing and evolving industry, and as such, it presents unique challenges for project managers. To ensure the success of their projects, project managers in the crypto industry must take the time to prepare and plan appropriately.
First and foremost, it’s essential that we understand what projects are.
A project is a temporary endeavor to create a unique product, service, or result.
In the context of the crypto industry, a project could be the development of a new cryptocurrency, the creation of a blockchain-based platform, or the implementation of a new technology solution.
This article is full of useful step-by-step guidance on organizing a crypto project, but as a result, it is really long. Yet somehow it is still not enough. Learning about project management is an endless endeavor. You will never know enough, and you can always learn more. I am saying this to stress just how little justice this guide does for the project management profession.
Experience beats all other forms of knowledge and starting is more important than reading when it comes to project management.
However, if this article helps you avoid some of the biggest traps and pitfalls, consider me a happy writer.
Hopefully, the table of contents below will help make it easier for you to see if you are interested in reading more about crypto project management.
Table of Contents
- Detailed project plan
- Clear goals, measurable results
- Project Management Framework Selection
- Identify and manage risks
- Assemble a strong and dedicated team
- Communicate regularly with stakeholders
- Monitor progress and adjust the project plan as needed
- Stay up to date with industry trends and developments
- Seek out new opportunities and partnerships
- Be transparent and accountable
- Prioritize security
- Take it slow and understand each part of the project
- Other reading
- Project Management Book List
The nature of the crypto industry means that project managers must be prepared to navigate a high-pressure and fast-paced environment. This can be challenging, as the industry is rapidly innovating. To succeed, project managers must be able to adapt to change and be comfortable working with a high degree of uncertainty.
Project Management frameworks like the Waterfall method often fall short of expectations, even if they are the easiest to implement. A more nuanced and iterative approach usually enables teams to produce better results. However, these frameworks are more challenging to implement correctly.
Regardless of the framework you choose to manage your project, you will still benefit from ensuring your project initiation phase starts strong.
With that in mind, here are 11 steps for project managers in the crypto industry to follow to ensure the success of their projects:
Create a Detailed Project Plan
Creating a detailed project plan is an essential step in project management, as it helps ensure that the project stays on track and meets its goals and objectives. A project plan is a document that outlines the steps, resources, and timeline for a project, and it serves as a roadmap for the project team.
To create a detailed project plan, project managers need to take several steps.
- Identify and define the project’s goals and objectives — This helps everyone involved in the project works towards the same end result.
- Break the project down into smaller, manageable tasks — Ensures that the project remains manageable and allows the team (and project manager) to track progress and identify any potential roadblocks or challenges.
- Identifying the people, materials, and equipment needed to complete the task — Having the right people on the right tasks will make or break a project. Talk with your team, have them look at what is available, and make plans together with them.
- Establish milestones for the project — These are key points in the project timeline that mark significant progress or completion of major tasks. Milestones help the team stay on track and provide opportunities for review and course correction.
Creating a detailed project plan is an essential step in project management. It helps ensure that the project stays on track, that tasks are completed on time, and that the project meets its goals and objectives. By following these steps and using tools and techniques such as goal setting and task breakdown, project managers can create a successful and effective project plan.
Making Detailed Project Plans
Project Management Software
To make project plans, project managers can use project management software. This computer program helps them plan, organize, and control tasks and resources. It can improve team communication and collaboration, and it provides reporting and analysis tools. This can help project managers monitor progress and adjust the project plan as needed.
There are many different project management software programs available, and the best one for a particular project will depend on the specific needs and goals of the project.
Here are five popular project management software programs that crypto project managers may want to consider:
- Asana: Asana is a cloud-based project management software that allows teams to track and manage tasks, projects, and workflows. It includes features such as task management, resource allocation, and project tracking.
- Trello: Trello is a project management software that uses a visual approach to organizing tasks and projects. It allows teams to create “boards” that represent different projects, and to add “cards” to those boards that represent individual tasks or ideas.
- Basecamp: Basecamp is a project management software that includes features such as task management, collaboration tools, and project tracking. It is designed to help teams communicate and collaborate more effectively, and it is particularly popular among software development teams.
- Jira: Jira is a project management software that is specifically designed for agile development teams. It includes features such as task management, collaboration tools, and project tracking, and it is designed to help teams plan, manage, and track their work in an agile environment.
- Microsoft Project: Microsoft Project is a project management software that is part of the Microsoft Office suite of productivity tools. It includes features such as task management, resource allocation, and project tracking, and it is designed to help teams plan, manage, and track projects of all sizes.
These are just a few examples of the many project management software programs available. There are many other options to choose from, and the best one for a particular project will depend on the specific needs and goals of your project.
We will dive deeper into every step in the sections below.
Clear goals, measurable results
It’s common sense to know our destination before we enter the car and drive. We think about what we want to order when waiting in line at a food place. So what is it about projects that make us forget this common sense that we have in other parts of our life?
I’ve started a fair share of projects without going through the motions to understand where I want to end up when it’s all done. I’m sure you‘ve done the same and wondered, “Why can’t I seem to finish this project?”
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” — Yogi Berra
One of the main reasons why we avoid proper planning and anticipation is lack of experience, but this also assumes that project plans will always remain the same. Regardless of experience, the goal in the initial stages of a project is to understand what results stakeholders want to achieve truly.
They represent what the project hopes to achieve as a result of S.M.A.R.T. objectives accomplished by your team. It’s not a guarantee, it’s a direction.
Goals will inform all of your subsequent objectives. I mentioned S.M.A.R.T. above, and let me define it for readers unfamiliar with the acronym.
What is S.M.A.R.T.?
S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. It is a method used for setting goals that are clear, actionable, and attainable. The idea behind the SMART system is that well-defined goals are more likely to be achieved than vague or general ones.
The SMART criteria can be applied to any goal, whether personal or professional. This helps you and your team stay focused and motivated throughout the project's lifecycle.
Let’s go over each of the S.M.A.R.T. criteria:
- Specific: The goal should be clear and well-defined, with specific details about what needs to be achieved.
- Measurable: The goal should be quantifiable, with specific metrics for tracking progress and determining success.
- Achievable: The goal should be realistic and achievable, given the available resources and constraints.
- Relevant: The goal should be aligned with the overall vision and mission of the organization and should address a specific need or challenge.
- Time-bound: The goal should have a specific deadline for completion, with intermediate milestones for tracking progress.
Using the S.M.A.R.T. system, you can ensure that your goals are clear, actionable, and attainable, which can help you stay focused and motivated as you work towards achieving them.
Applying S.M.A.R.T. to your project
The best way to illustrate the application of this framework is through an example. Let’s say you are working for a cryptocurrency exchange, and the founders want to start a project to update an existing data dashboard for traders.
They want you to be the project manager and get it done.
Starting immediately is the wrong decision. The goal is to update an existing data dashboard, but you must understand that you need to include a lot of information from stakeholders.
To get the information, you need to answer the following questions:
- Why do the founders want to create a new data dashboard?
- Who does the data dashboard affect?
- What outcome do the founders hope to achieve through this data dashboard?
- Who can you onboard to your team to accomplish the project's objectives?
- What kind of data should be on the dashboard?
- How should it be presented?
*Depending on the Founder’s personality and experience, maybe they will provide full or partial information about the project’s plan, but most often, you will be expected to do this part.
The above list is not exhaustive, but it should guide you through creating other similar questions as well, focused on filling up the gaps you have regarding the project.
Your founders explain that competitors are developing similar dashboards, and they don’t want to be left behind, as they believe their current dashboard looks dated and isn’t providing the best value to its core audience, traders. Their motivation is fear, competition, willingness to be the best brand in the business, and keep up with the trends.
After consideration, you realize that the dashboard will affect many groups of people. Your platform’s most active traders become stakeholders in your project since the goal is to create value for them and the company. Journalists, crypto founders, and investors will all potentially find valuable data on your dashboard as well, so it would be good also to include their needs in your investigations and planning.
To keep things short, let's go to the future after you’ve got all the information and see what the goals and objectives look like for this project.
Goal: Within three months from today’s date, we will develop and launch an updated data dashboard product that is easy to use, provides valuable insights to users, and is more popular than similar products created by competitors, as measured by a 30% increase in user engagement and positive ratings and reviews.
- Conduct user research to identify the key features and functionality that users want in a data dashboard product.
- Create a prototype of the updated data dashboard product and test it with beta users to gather feedback and make improvements.
- Develop the final version of the data dashboard product, incorporating feedback from beta testers and user research.
- Create a marketing and promotion plan to increase awareness of the updated data dashboard product and attract new users.
- Launch the updated data dashboard product within three months from today’s date and monitor its performance to ensure it meets the project's goals.
- Enable the project to continuously update and improve the data dashboard product based on user feedback and data analysis after the project ends.
*Budget discussions are not a part of this guide for now, but they are relatively straightforward. The main stakeholder, i.e. the client or employer needs to commit a certain amount toward accomplishing the goals. As a project manager, you need to evaluate if the budget is suitable or not, and this is mostly a matter of experience. Important to note, even if you don’t have experience, having a budget is necessary for healthy project progression.
Overall, these objectives focus on the key steps required to develop and launch an updated data dashboard and accomplish the ultimate goal of beating the competition.
Taking the time to crystalize the goals and objectives of your project will make securing buy-in from stakeholders much easier, as well as increase levels of motivation within your team, now that they can easily understand the direction of the project.
But this only secures the first step, you still have a lot of work to do before you can truly get started.
However, now that you identified the overall project goals and objectives, it’s time to start breaking them down into actionable items that you can delegate to your team members in order to get the work done.
Bonus: Project Decomposition — Break the project down into smaller, manageable tasks
Project decomposition is a tactic that project managers can use to break down complex tasks into smaller, simpler tasks that can be completed more easily.
In general, you want to get to a point where all tasks take a maximum of two days for an individual to complete. Anything that takes longer is likely able to be further broken down into simpler tasks.
This approach helps make the project more manageable and allows the team to track progress and identify any potential roadblocks or challenges.
To use task decomposition, project managers should follow these steps:
- Identify a complex task that is a part of the project.
- Break the complex task down into smaller, simpler tasks. For example, if the complex task is to build a website, the smaller tasks might include designing the website, writing the content, coding the website, and testing the website.
- Assign each of the smaller tasks to a specific team member or group.
- Establish deadlines for each of the smaller tasks, and ensure that the deadlines are realistic and achievable.
- Monitor the progress of the smaller tasks, and provide support and guidance as needed to ensure that they are completed on time and to a high standard.
You can do this at the start of the project or at any time after a project has started. If you find that some tasks are too unknown for you, recruit the team members expected to complete the tasks. Specialists will have a much better view of the task and can help you break it down into manageable pieces.
By using task decomposition, project managers can break down complex tasks into smaller, simpler tasks that are easier to manage and track. This can help ensure that the project stays on track and meets its goals and objectives, and it can provide opportunities for review and course correction.
Project Management Framework Selection
Choosing the right project management framework is crucial for the success of any project, and crypto projects are no exception. In this section, we will explore some of the most popular project management frameworks and discuss their strengths and weaknesses in the context of crypto projects.
By the end, you will have a better understanding of which framework is best suited for your needs.
- Waterfall: The Waterfall framework is a linear, sequential approach to project management. Its strength is its predictability: project managers can plan every step of the project in advance and execute it according to the plan. This makes it easy to control the project and make sure it stays on track. However, its weakness is its inflexibility: it’s difficult to make changes once the project has begun. This can be a problem in the fast-changing world of crypto, where conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly.
- Agile: The Agile framework is a flexible, iterative approach to project management. Its strength is its adaptability: project managers can respond to changes quickly and easily. This is important in crypto, where market conditions can change rapidly. Agile also promotes collaboration and communication, which are essential for managing complex crypto projects. However, its weakness is its lack of structure: without clear guidance, Agile can be chaotic and difficult to manage.
- Scrum: The Scrum framework is a variant of Agile that emphasizes small, cross-functional teams and regular, iterative progress. Its strength is its focus on collaboration and communication: with Scrum, project managers can foster a sense of teamwork and keep everyone on the same page. This is especially important in crypto, where different teams (e.g. development, marketing, PR) need to work together closely. However, its weakness is its lack of focus on long-term planning: without careful planning, Scrum can lead to haphazard execution.
- PERT: The PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique) framework is a network-based approach to project management. Its strength is its ability to model complex projects and identify potential problems early on. This is important in crypto, where there are many moving parts and potential risks. PERT also provides mechanisms for tracking progress and making adjustments as needed. However, its weakness is its complexity: PERT can be difficult to understand and implement, especially for inexperienced project managers.
In short, each of these frameworks has its strengths and weaknesses in the context of crypto projects. Waterfall is predictable but inflexible, Agile is adaptable but chaotic, Scrum is collaborative but unstructured, and PERT is complex but powerful. Ultimately, the right framework will depend on the specific needs of your project and your experience as a project manager.
There is no best approach
The most likely outcome is that you will create your own framework that works within the bounds of your team. The main point of any framework at all is that work needs people to dedicate time and energy, and people need clarity and guidance. Whatever gives you the leverage you need to help increase the productivity of your team is the right choice for your project.
The list above is by no means exhaustive, but I would argue to avoid using methods similar to Waterfall. Most crypto projects encounter barriers at one point or another, and it’s important that people can continue working in parallel, eventually meeting each other’s progress by the end of the project.
In my own experience, the best approach is to incorporate long-term planning with the main stakeholders, weekly planning with the implementation team, daily check-ins with each team member and regularly monitoring and updating the progress of the project.
This helps ensure you get the most information possible about the state of the project, keep everybody informed, and ensure you are aware of any potential barriers to progress.
Identifying and managing risks
Identifying and managing risks is essential for project management because it helps reduce the potential impact of unknown risks on the project and increases the likelihood of success.
By identifying potential risks, developing a plan for mitigating those risks, and involving stakeholders in the risk management process, project managers can ensure that their projects stay on track and meet their goals and objectives.
Crypto specific risks
The crypto industry is subject to a number of unique risks that project managers must be aware of in order to effectively manage their projects. Some of the most common risks in the crypto industry include:
- Market volatility: The crypto market is highly volatile, and prices can fluctuate significantly in a short period of time. This can make it difficult to predict the potential return on investment for crypto projects, and it can lead to unexpected losses.
- Technological challenges: The crypto industry is still in its early stages, and there are many technical challenges that project managers must navigate. These can include issues with security, scalability, interoperability, and regulatory compliance.
- Regulatory changes: The crypto industry is still evolving, and regulatory changes can have a significant impact on crypto projects. Project managers must be aware of the latest regulatory developments and ensure that their projects are compliant with all relevant laws and regulations.
- Competition: The crypto industry is highly competitive, and there are many projects competing for the same market share. Project managers must be aware of the competition and develop strategies to differentiate their projects and remain competitive.
- Malicious Actors: Crypto transactions are final, with no chargebacks possible, making the industry an excellent target for hackers and social engineering attacks. Most crypto projects fail from the inside and project managers need to have systems in place to protect the project.
By identifying and managing these risks, project managers in the crypto industry can reduce the potential impact of risks on their projects and increase the likelihood of success.
General project management risks
In addition to the unique risks that are specific to the crypto industry, there are also many more general risks that project managers in any industry must be aware of. Some of the most common risks that project managers should be aware of include:
- Schedule delays: Projects can often experience delays due to a variety of factors, such as unanticipated challenges, changes in scope, or unexpected events. These delays can impact the project timeline, budget, and overall success.
- Resource constraints: Projects often require a range of resources, including people, equipment, materials, and funding. Insufficient or inadequate resources can impact the project’s ability to meet its goals and objectives.
- Communication breakdowns: Effective communication is essential for the success of any project. Miscommunications, misunderstandings, or lack of communication can lead to misunderstandings, delays, or other challenges.
- Scope creep: Scope creep occurs when the project scope expands beyond what was originally planned. This can lead to increased costs, delays, and other challenges.
- Stakeholder dissatisfaction: Projects often involve a range of stakeholders, including customers, clients, employees, partners, and investors. If these stakeholders are not satisfied with the project, it can impact the project’s success and reputation.
How to identify risks?
By taking a step back and looking at your project from afar, you can make it easier to understand where risk may be hiding.
A thorough assessment of potential risks, including market volatility, technological challenges, and regulatory changes, as well as other risks unique to your project is essential for successful risk management.
For very long projects consider developing a plan for mitigating risks. For example, if you identify market volatility as a potential risk, your plan might include steps such as conducting market research, diversifying your investment portfolio, and developing contingency plans.
It is also important to establish a timeline for regular risk assessments. This will help you stay on top of potential risks and ensure that your risk management strategies are effective
Set specific dates for review and update, and make sure to involve stakeholders in the risk management process. This can be done through the typical method of regular meetings with stakeholders, but also newsletters, or other communication channels.
Effective risk management is crucial for the success of any project.
By identifying potential risks, developing a plan for mitigating those risks, and involving stakeholders in the risk management process, you can reduce the potential impact of risks on your project and increase the likelihood of success.
So take the time to assess and manage risks, and you’ll be well on your way to achieving your project goals.
Creating a strong team
One of the most important factors when it comes to starting and running a successful crypto project is having a strong and dedicated team.
This means defining the specific requirements and criteria that team members must meet in order to be a good fit for your project, and then recruiting and hiring team members who have the skills, experience, and expertise necessary for success.
Your project’s budget also must be considered here, as project members will typically create monthly costs for your organization. There are however options to decide on a fixed payment for fulfilling the goals of the project. It all depends on how you decide to approach the hiring process.
Most often people will already be on your team unless you are a founder starting from scratch. If that’s the case (or if you simply need to hire) you will need to define the requirements for your future team members.
Here’s how to do it
To define the requirements for your team members, consider the specific skills and expertise that are necessary for success in the crypto industry and the pieces you are missing from your team.
This might include technical expertise in areas such as blockchain technology, cryptography, and software development, as well as more general skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication.
In addition to these specific skills, it is also important to look for team members who have relevant experience in the crypto industry, as well as a passion for the project and a commitment to its success.
By carefully selecting team members who have the right skills and expertise, you can create a team that is well-equipped to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the crypto industry. This can help your project succeed by providing the knowledge, experience, and expertise necessary to navigate the complex and fast-changing landscape of the crypto world.
Building team cohesion
Once you have recruited and hired your team, the next step is to build team cohesion and collaboration. This can be achieved through a range of methods and resources, such as regular team meetings, team-building activities, and communication tools.
In order to foster a strong team culture, it is important to focus on building trust, promoting open and honest communication, and encouraging collaboration and teamwork. By creating a positive and supportive team environment, you can help your team members work together effectively and achieve your project goals.
Teach your team members how you want them to report their work-related updates to you. Are they going to have access to your project management platform, or will you update it yourself based on their inputs?
Finally, it is important to provide ongoing support and professional development to your team members. This can be achieved through a range of methods and resources, such as training and coaching, mentorship programs, and opportunities for career advancement.
By providing support and opportunities for growth and development, you can help your team members continue to learn, grow, and develop their skills, which can in turn help your project achieve its goals and objectives.
Your team is the project’s lifeblood
Creating a strong and dedicated team is essential for the success of your crypto project.
By carefully selecting team members who have the right skills and expertise, fostering collaboration and teamwork, and providing ongoing support and professional development, you can create a team that is well-equipped to tackle the challenges and opportunities of the crypto industry.
This increases the chances of success for your project and helps it achieve its goals and objectives. By investing in the development of your team, you can create a powerful foundation for success, and position your project for long-term growth and success.
Final notes on team members
As a project manager, you need to think long-term. Each team member’s utility doesn’t end when the project ends. Team members will join and leave the project midway. This is a risk that you need to manage. Great team members will take an effort to make you aware of their plans and how they may impact you and your project.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” — proverb
Lastly, maintaining a great relationship with your people means they will be available for future projects, lowering your overhead and time wastage in trying to find other suitable team members.
Communicate regularly with stakeholders
Never do anything without approval. Unless you are a founder and willing to take a risk on an uninformed decision (you should still consult with your customers for most things) failure to get approval will likely result in a missed mark, lost time due to rework, wasted energy, and resources.
Hopefully, it’s clear that effective communication is essential for the success of any crypto project. By regularly communicating with stakeholders, you can keep them informed about the progress of the project, address their concerns and feedback, and involve them in decision-making and problem-solving.
Some might say that if Steve Jobs gave people what they thought they wanted, Apple would never become the Apple we know today. That may very well be true, but let’s remind ourselves that we are not Steve Jobs.
Let’s also consider that Steve Jobs also didn’t guess. He understood his customer so well, that he could envision what their future needs may be, which nonetheless was a risk in and of itself. He could have just as easily missed the mark. He created products that opened his customer’s eyes to the potential of the future and was fairly compensated for the risk he took to spring past the competition.
Regular communication and stakeholder approval are mandatory
Stakeholders can be difficult to get on a meeting. Your boss is a busy person, and so is the client (if you are a freelancer). This is why in order to ensure these meetings happen it is important to have a plan for regular updates and communication with stakeholders.
This should include specific channels and methods for sharing information, such as email, newsletters, social media, and project management tools. It should also include a timeline for regular updates, with specific dates and frequencies for sharing information with stakeholders.
Get your boss/client/customer on your side
In addition to regular updates, it is also important to invite stakeholders to periodically join you in reviewing the state of the project.
This can be achieved through regular meetings, where you can share progress updates, discuss challenges and opportunities, and gather feedback and input from stakeholders.
These meetings should be scheduled on a regular basis, with specific dates, times, and agendas, in order to ensure that stakeholders are kept informed and involved in the project.
Involve stakeholders in decision-making
Another key aspect of effective communication with stakeholders is involving them in decision-making and problem-solving. This can be achieved through a range of channels and methods, such as online forums, surveys, and feedback tools.
By involving stakeholders in these processes, you can gather valuable input and perspectives that can help you make better decisions and solve problems more effectively.
Address Stakeholder Feedback
It is important to have a plan for addressing stakeholder concerns and feedback. This should include specific channels and methods for gathering and responding to stakeholder feedback, such as email, surveys, and online forums.
By actively listening to and addressing stakeholder concerns, you can build trust, improve communication, and enhance the overall success of your project.
Stakeholder management is critical
Effective communication with stakeholders is essential for the success of your crypto project. By regularly updating stakeholders, involving them in decision-making and problem-solving, and addressing their concerns and feedback, you can create a more collaborative and successful project.
By investing in effective communication with stakeholders, you can increase the chances of success for your project, and help it achieve its goals and objectives. By keeping stakeholders informed and involved, you can build trust and support, and create a more positive and productive environment for your project.
Monitoring progress and adjusting
Effective project management involves constantly monitoring progress and making adjustments as needed to ensure the successful completion of your crypto project.
By tracking progress, identifying and addressing potential problems and issues, and regularly communicating with the team and stakeholders, you can ensure that your project stays on track and achieves its goals and objectives.
Key Metrics and Benchmarks for Tracking Project Progress
To monitor progress effectively, you need to have a plan in place that includes specific metrics and benchmarks for tracking progress. This might include key performance indicators (KPIs) such as project timeline, budget, and quality standards, as well as more specific metrics that are relevant to your project. By regularly tracking these metrics and benchmarks, you can identify potential problems and issues before they become major obstacles, and take corrective action to keep your project on track.
Regularly Update Timelines to Keep Your Project on Track
In addition to tracking progress, it is also important to have a timeline for regular reviews and updates. This should include specific dates and frequencies for reviewing progress and making adjustments to the project plan, in order to ensure that your project stays on track and remains aligned with your goals and objectives. By regularly reviewing progress and making adjustments as needed, you can keep your project moving forward and avoid costly delays or setbacks.
Strategies for Addressing Potential Problems and Issues
To identify and address potential problems and issues, you need to have a strategy in place that includes specific methods and resources. This might include techniques such as problem-solving and root cause analysis, as well as tools such as project management software, risk management frameworks, and quality assurance processes. By using these methods and resources, you can identify potential problems and issues quickly, and take corrective action to prevent them from becoming major obstacles to your project.
Sharing Progress and Updates with the Team and Stakeholders
Monitoring is useless if you don’t plan to communicate progress and updates to the team and stakeholders. The previous section covered this topic in-depth, but you should have designated touchpoints with both the team and stakeholders. By regularly sharing progress updates and keeping the team and stakeholders informed, you can foster collaboration and teamwork, and build trust and support for your project.
Project Monitoring Maximizes Your Success Chance
Constantly monitoring progress and making adjustments as needed, identifying and addressing potential problems and issues, and regularly communicating with the team and stakeholders, you can ensure that your project stays on track and achieves its goals and objectives.
By investing time and energy in effective progress monitoring and project plan adjustments, you can increase the chances of success for your project, and help it achieve its full potential.
Stay up to date with the industry
As a crypto project manager, you need to be constantly learning and staying up to date with the latest industry trends and developments. This will help you stay ahead of the curve, and position your project for success in a rapidly evolving industry.
Have a plan in place
Finding the time to keep learning and continue being involved with the industry at large is not a simple task. The pressures of deadlines and issues can derail your efforts if you don’t have a plan in place for this.
It would be best to do this daily, likely in the evenings after most of your day’s tasks and plans have been concluded. I am not keen on telling you where to go for this information, as it really depends on what your project is all about. If it’s about NFTs, maybe it's time to see what the competition is doing, or what the market sentiment about NFTs is like.
If it’s about complex legal frameworks and infrastructure solutions, you may want to spend some time investigating the latest updates from regulators.
Whatever the case, you are in the best possible position to know what your learning should consist of, I can only point you in the right direction.
Conferences are another great source of information, in addition to providing an opportunity to meet with remote team members.
Another potential aspect of staying up to date with industry trends and developments is incorporating them into your project plan. This can be achieved through a range of methods and resources, such as workshops, brainstorming sessions, and project management tools.
By using these methods and resources, you can integrate industry trends and developments into your project plan, and ensure that your project stays relevant and competitive in the crypto market.
It is important to also share industry insights and knowledge with the team and stakeholders. After learning some particularly relevant information, you can prepare a presentation for your team, sharing the information, but also further solidifying your understanding through the effort to teach.
You don’t have to do the learning by yourself. You can involve other team members in sub-projects that end up creating market reports for the hands-on experience. Workshops, courses, networking events, and your project’s events are also great ways to stay up to date.
Sometimes creating the future is the only way to predict it.
Seek out new opportunities and partnerships
You need to be proactive in seeking out new opportunities and partnerships that can help your project succeed. By dedicating time and resources to exploring the unknown, meeting with like-minded projects in the industry, and establishing partnerships for mutual support, you can position your project for success in a rapidly evolving market.
It can be extremely difficult to do this during a bull market, as most people are under immense amounts of pressure during these moments. Instead, if you can leverage the slower pace of bear markets to establish these relationships, it can pay dividends over the long term.
Make sure that you don’t allow any project to feel as if you are taking advantage of them. True partnerships support and nurture each other's relationship, never asking for more than they are willing to give.
To achieve this, you need to have a plan in place for identifying and pursuing new opportunities. This might include criteria such as market potential, strategic fit, and alignment with your project’s goals and objectives.
It should also include methods for researching and assessing opportunities, such as networking, market research, and customer feedback. By regularly using these criteria and methods, you can identify and pursue new opportunities that can help your project succeed.
Your network is your best friend here. After you’ve identified with whom you want to partner, you should seek to understand who in your network knows people in these companies or projects, or even knows people that know them.
Make sure to plan for this in your project plan. Include specific deadlines and milestones for negotiating, establishing, and maintaining partnerships, in order to ensure that your project stays on track and achieves its goals and objectives.
By making partnerships a priority, you can create a network of support and collaboration that can help your project succeed.
Another key aspect of seeking out new opportunities and partnerships is aligning them with the goals and objectives of your project. This can be achieved through a range of methods and resources, such as business planning, goal setting, and project management tools.
By using these methods and resources, you can ensure that your partnerships are aligned with your project’s goals and objectives, and help your project achieve its full potential.
No project lives in a vacuum. Together with your partners, you can achieve more than you can achieve on your own. However, be mindful that your partners don’t end up leading you astray, away from the original goals and objectives you set out to accomplish.
Hence, documentation is key. During all of the meetings you have with partners, it's important to take notes to document the decisions and key talking points and share them via email, creating a provable timeline of how things developed.
Partnerships need to be constantly evaluated and measured. You can’t afford to spend time, energy, and resources fulfilling somebody else’s objectives, especially if that hurts your project. So take it slow and easy. Test and evaluate your partner’s ability to deliver value, and make sure you reciprocate.
You don’t have to wait on them to do something for you first. Feel free to take the initiative and dedicate some time and energy to your partner, and see how they react and/or reciprocate.
What you are looking for is positive feedback loops, where each partner contributes to the other’s goals, keeping both projects moving along their intended trajectory.
Be transparent and accountable
Being transparent and accountable to your stakeholders and team members is mandatory. It is the basis of trust and confidence in you and your abilities.
This is especially important on large projects, where you will have a large number of stakeholders and team members who are relying on you to deliver on your promises. By positioning yourself as a truthbearer for the project, you can build trust and support for your project, and increase its chances of success.
To achieve this, you need to have a plan in place for regular reporting, we’ve already covered this in the section on effective communication with stakeholders. However, it’s important to repeat it.
By ensuring regular meetings with everybody involved, you provide transparent, and accountable reports to your stakeholders and team members. As a result, they feel as being a part of the project and can contribute through their ideas, networks, and action to support you.
Sometimes, it feels as if stakeholders expect you to do everything, and that’s fine. Unless it’s not fine and it’s a problem. You need to decide. If you decide it is an issue, then I will again point you to the section for effective communication.
Many project managers do not want to admit when they’ve lost sight of the project, but this is an error. You can try to fix it yourself, but it will be much easier to fix it together with stakeholders. You owe it to them to keep them informed. Instead of judging you, most stakeholders will do their best to help out.
Of course, culture plays a strong part. If you are in a toxic environment, your admission may be perceived as a weakness or liability and that can result in your termination from the project. However, this is a blessing in disguise, because you don’t want to be a part of such an organization.
Take it with a grain of salt of course. There is no need to sacrifice a perfectly manageable situation with honesty, but in the long term, it’s much better to navigate to companies where honesty is considered a virtue.
You should create a system for stakeholders to be able to address you with questions and concerns. This can be as simple as them sending you an email, or having them create a document to request information, or both depending on the complexity of the issue/concern.
By having a system in place, you can plan and dedicate time to answering questions and concerns, resulting in an effective response rate, high levels of trust, and rapport.
Honesty is contagious
When the leader of the project (you) is honest and transparent with the team, this has a cascading effect on morale and culture. Other people suddenly feel comfortable sharing more precise and relevant information. You will start to become aware of issues and potential risks sooner, rather than when they become real problems.
When dishonesty is the default, or at least people feel they can’t freely express themselves, problems become easier to deflect rather than face head-on. You should strive to create an environment where it’s okay to say “No, that’s too much to do this week.”, and where it’s okay to say “I think we have a problem.” or simply where it’s okay to talk about difficult topics.
Cryptocurrency projects are extremely vulnerable to exploits and software bugs, which can have serious consequences for your community and team.
By ensuring that proper steps have been taken to secure the infrastructure of your project, you can protect your project from potential threats, and increase its chances of success.
Especially regarding the development of smart contracts, you will either work with extremely capable developers that can test various scenarios or rely on security audits performed by third parties.
This is of course not a guarantee, as novel ways to take advantage of vulnerabilities are discovered regularly. The open-source nature of the industry helps ensure a high degree of security for most projects through the creation of standards and principles over time.
Every project that failed in the past due to a smart contract security issue is a valuable lesson, and more importantly an available one.
You should require your own developers to conduct an internal audit at key stages during the project. The topic of security needs to be one of the top priorities for the project, mostly because once live, it’s extremely difficult and in some cases impossible to fix mistakes that can end up costing your project and community total loss of assets.
Regular Security Audits
Ideally, your project should go through regular security audits with every public version that you publish. However, depending on your team’s development style this can be extremely costly.
If you are making frequent updates to your smart contracts (which you really shouldn’t) then security audits lose their value extremely fast, making it impractical to go through the ordeal of getting it as a service from a third party.
Ideally, you would only make an audit near the end of the project, especially if your end goal consists of a smart contract. This will enable your team to perform final fixes and protections on a finished product.
Also, note that audits only protect you from already known attack vectors. If you are working on a groundbreaking project, it may very well have severe vulnerabilities that are invisible to auditors.
Unfortunately, this is a risk you cannot escape or mitigate.
Your team needs to take security seriously. Most vulnerabilities come from the inside, either through malicious actors or through a backdoor created by downloading files on your team’s systems.
Your project is not only vulnerable to hacks, but also to scammers who will target your community in an attempt to defraud it.
Having good communication with the community will help mitigate this risk. Ensure that learning about your project is easy and that offers or special events are shared on a singular official webpage. Make a commitment to warn your community of what scam attempts look like and teach them how to identify these malicious actors.
Take it slow and understand each part of the project, including:
Take your time and understand each part of the project. By doing so, you can ensure that your project is well-planned, well-executed, and successful.
This part involves you reading guides such as this one, and talking with partners and colleagues, stakeholders, and your team members.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking things already need to be done. While you may have used your time ineffectively, seek to improve productivity over time instead of all at once. Falling into the trap will only lead to frustration and depression.
Instead, take as long as you think you need before you start to prepare as much as you can (you can never be prepared enough) with a solid deadline. Keep planning even after the start of the project. Talk with your team on a regular basis and consult with them.
Talk freely about the issues and how you might improve them, together.
Over time, this will result in your team helping you, and helping them be productive. It’s almost a magical feeling that never stays too long.
After Action Eeviews
If your team is solid, meaning it will stay together even after the project is over, consider bringing everybody onboard to discuss what went great, what went wrong, and what should continue to happen, and what should stop happening in the future.
Taking just 30 minutes to discuss these topics can set the expectations and processes for future projects together with the same team.
Part of taking it slow is documenting everything. Every meeting, every decision, every concern, every issue. It may be just a task in the planning software, or a document explaining all of the goals and objectives of sub-projects. Regardless, documenting is integral to planning projects and communicating effectively with your team.
Make sure that your team has a shared knowledge base where they can also contribute to the documenting process when waiting on prerequisites.
The crypto industry presents unique challenges for project managers. Successful project managers must be prepared to navigate a fast-paced and high-pressure environment and be willing to adapt to change. By following a thorough and well-planned approach, project managers in the crypto industry can set their projects up for success.
Keep in mind always that your experience is going to be the guiding light. Project management is learned on the job and theory can only help you do it better over time.
That was intense.
Join the Conversation: Suggest Topics and Ask Questions to Help Us Enhance This Guide
As this guide grows and evolves, we welcome feedback from our readers to help improve and expand upon its content.
If you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to see covered, or if you have any questions or comments about the information presented in this guide, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via comment.
We appreciate your support in helping this guide continue to grow and provide valuable information to project managers everywhere.
Courses and Structured Learning
Google Project Management: Professional Certificate
Ready to jumpstart your project management career? Check out Google’s Professional Certificate program! In just six months, you’ll learn the skills you need to succeed, with no degree or experience necessary.
Improve Your Project Management Skills with PMI eLearning
Upgrade your project management skills with PMI eLearning! From the basics to advanced techniques, they cover it all. Plus, earn PDUs or CEUs and maintain your PMP® or CAPM® certification. Flexible and convenient, learn anytime, anywhere on your schedule.
Knutson, J. (1999). That first step can be the most important. PM Network, 13(9), 19–20.
Although old, this article from 1999 by PMI also contains useful information about this topic
Kat, B. (2021). How to write SMART goals, Atlassian Blog
If you were looking for a more focused piece of content on the S.M.A.R.T. method, here you go! :)
Do you prefer books instead?
Project Management Book List
While there is no book yet that is 100% focused on managing crypto projects, the core fundamentals of project management are universal.
They will be helpful to your development as a leader.
Here is a list of 10 books that I believe can help both experienced and beginner project managers or even people that want to develop this amazing, game-changing skillset.
A great place to order books with free worldwide shipping (often cheaper than Amazon) is https://www.bookdepository.com/
- “The Project Management Institute’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge” (PMBOK) by PMI
- “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni
- “Agile Project Management” by Jim Highsmith
- “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries
- “Getting Things Done” by David Allen
- “The Project Manager’s Desk Reference” by James P. Lewis
- “The New Project Management” by Meredith and Mantel
- “Project Management for Dummies” by Stanley E. Portny
- “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership” by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky
- “The Project Management Answer Book” by Jeff Furman and Barbara A. Carkenord
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