What do you think the common denominator is between the most successful projects in the food industry? There are a lot of potential responses to this, but for me, the common denominator is a good Project Manager.
When referring to the Food & Beverage or Health & Wellness industries, in particular; finding a collaborative advantage with a Project Manager who has excellent business acumen, knowledge of digital tools for innovation, and expertise in these niche industries has the potential to strongly differentiate your brand in those markets as your business grows.
Have you ever worked in a company where the product or service may have been great but noticed that they are somewhat unorganised and it is causing them to not grow as fast as they could be? That is likely because the business lacks the basic structure and strategy required for moving food innovation or product development projects forward in a fast and efficient way.
Now, of course, this is something that your team can figure out along the way, but it will take a lot more of your time and effort to achieve than when working with someone who has experience in a Project Management role, and knows what pitfalls and opportunities to look out for along the way. The latter will enable you to build a highly effective team, in an in-person or virtual environment, which will strengthen the company’s value proposition.
Getting the basics right with regards to the business or project strategy, structure, management, and operations, is absolutely essential to its overall success and can make a huge difference to your speed and scale of growth. A good project manager should be able to work within your resources and budget to save you time and money in the long run, a skill which is of particular importance in today’s world than ever before.
Whether you are starting a new business, or looking to scale an existing one, examining the systems and processes you have in place can often make or break your success in a project.
The image below illustrates a high-level overview of a project management system example for a new product development project. While these are just a few of the elements that a project manager can oversee, the reality can often be much more complex, so having one person take the lead can allow you to achieve your definition of success faster and more seamlessly.
The key is in remembering that projects are most successful when one person is in charge. When there is no clear leader, decisions will be discussed, but not made, and ideas will be shared, but not acted upon. You need an individual who can oversee tasks and help keep the focus so better decisions are made, even in a virtual or remote setting.
When I work with brands in a Project Management role, I help them take care of everything from coordinating, planning, and leading key project meetings, ensuring adherence to timelines and highlighting risks and/or risk mitigation plans to multiple project stakeholders, all while ensuring the team is appropriately resourced to support project success during pre- and post-launch activities.
I have also overseen manufacturing handovers and vetting processes, in addition to implementing systems for quality assurance, product liability insurance, and third-party audits. Additionally, I have reviewed deadlines and timelines on an ongoing basis, flagging key issues/delays, and working with those accountable to ensure zero slippage on task achievement.
All of the above has been based on not only what the client has requested, but also my (client-approved) suggestions on what tasks I think will improve the process or speed up time-to-market. You will be able to spot a good project manager as someone who can not only listen to what you are currently experiencing and where you want to be, but who will also offer suggestions and ideas, and seek out new opportunities to help you reach your goals. They should be actively searching for and identifying exactly where the pitfalls and challenges are in your business and help you turn them into opportunities, instead of merely ticking off the boxes you asked for in the beginning.
Below are some more examples of the skills and experience that a good project manager can bring to the table to help you accomplish your objectives within your desired timeframe and budget:
- Exhibit strong organisational, written, and verbal communication skills.
- Ability to work cross-culturally and manage multiple priorities at once.
- Establish critical milestones for food product development, plant trials, certification submission, packaging, and full-scale production.
- Coordination of teams and third parties/vendors for the flawless execution of projects and zero slippage on deadlines.
- Develop a detailed project plan using stage-gate process and agile methodology to track progress.
- Project status reporting for different audiences.
- Point of contact for all project needs.
- Perform risk analysis and scenario planning to plan for contingency and mitigation.
- Establish the appropriate regulatory/compliance requirements to better understand the scalability and economic viability of the project.
- Create and maintain comprehensive project documentation during new product development.
Finally, many projects initiated in 2020 and 2021 have had to adjust to new virtual ways of working when it comes to developing new products or bringing a product to market. A sign of a good project manager is one that will be able to adapt to these new ways of working and help you find solutions that work virtually and remotely.
With my clients from the past year, we were able to successfully carry everything out remotely through video sessions, and the ability to continue to work together on projects throughout lockdown enabled those brands to get an important head start in extremely competitive categories.
If you would like to learn more about sourcing a strong Project Manager for your current or future projects, send an email to me at [email protected] and we can discuss in more detail how to help you achieve your goals.
– Raphaelle, Founder of iNewtrition
iNewtrition is an Innovation as a Service (IaaS) agency for the functional food & beverage, and health & wellness industries. We provide agile customer solutions, end-to-end support, or can simply help you overcome specific bottlenecks to fast track innovation and product development. The services and expertise we offer are on-demand and available to you instantly via our online booking platform. Our skills combined cover every step of your innovation journey, from feasibility study, product design or development, to post-launch scale-up. Contact Raphaelle at [email protected] to start your journey.