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Entrepreneurs & Leaders Insight: Andrew Rogoff
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Entrepreneur Andrew Rogoff is co-founder of resource management software service Resource Guru. He spent time as a digital Project Manager in the agency world and he now I spends all his time on my businesses. The web and all things digital are his passion.

(1) You have designed an app to help people manage project resources. How did you approach the project delivery of the initial launch of Resource Guru? (methodology used or more dynamic planning and doing?)

I started Resource Guru with a friend of mine and, while we had both worked in the web industry for several years, neither of us was a developer. So, we decided that we would create a clickable prototype that we could hand over to programmers for development.

We began by brainstorming the core functionality for the app. I was a digital project manager for around 10 years so I had a pretty good understanding of the problem we were solving. We used some prototyping software called Axure to build our first prototype. We then embarked on some usability testing with various project managers. We conducted structured tests with around 5 PMs and recorded videos for analysis later.

After each test, we refined the prototype based on the feedback and iterated until we had a prototype we were happy with.

We then began the long process of finding some developers to help us realise our dream. We went through quite a lengthy RFI and RFP process but it was worthwhile because we found some fantastic developers called Platform45. One of the great things about using Axure to create the prototype was that we didn't need to hand over a 150-page functional spec. Instead, the developers had access to a clickable prototype that demonstrated exactly what we needed. As a PM who's toiled over hundreds of functional specs, I can tell you this was a real breath of fresh air.

The development process itself was run using an Agile methodology and still is to this day. We run regular sprints and have daily stand ups via Skype.

(2) Digital agencies are a key demographic for Resource Gurus. Are these users reporting tangible benefits from using your application?

That's true - in fact, I think our first customer was a digital agency. Well, we get compliments from agencies on a regular basis. In fact, we had a Tweet today which said "... your app is already filling a void on the market". We haven't had much quantitative feedback, eg "Resource Guru is saving us 6 hours a day in increased productivity". But we wouldn't really expect that as most people simply don't measure that type of thing. They just know when something is saving them time and is better than what they had before.

(3) I have worked in many digital agencies and there are a few who had decent resource booking spreadsheets, but spreadsheets are not as intuitive as a good cloud-based solution. What are Resource Guru's key benefits?

Our 2 minute overview is probably the best way to learn about the key benefits and it can be found on our homepage at http://resourceguruapp.com. Key benefits include:

- Team visibility on one clever calendar - quickly see what projects and clients resources are booked on.
- Lightning fast scheduling - add, edit, move & delete bookings in seconds.
- Personal dashboards - resources are always bang up to date and there's no need to send out hundreds of emails which quickly go out of date.
- See the big picture - who's busy? Who's available? Our unique "availability bar" helps you with capacity planning.
- Custom fields - create custom fields (eg 'Skills', 'Department', 'Location' etc) and use them to filter resources in the calendar.
- Powerful reports deliver new insights - monitor utilization rates and and gain valuable new insights into your business.
- Advanced clash management - bookings can be added to a waiting list and used for capacity planning later, leaving users to get on with their busy day.

(4) Would Resource Guru be useful for planning a big party? What's the funniest/most unique case study you have heard of using Resource Guru?

I would say that this is not a typical use case for Resource Guru but, yes, it could be useful, depending on how much planning you had to do. If you had weeks of planning where certain people needed to do things by a certain time, then it could definitely be useful. But, I think task/todo apps might be better suited to this type of thing, eg Trello or Asana. On the other hand, if you ran a party planning company with limited resources working for multiple customers, then I would say Resource Guru could be a much better tool.

Resource Guru is being used by companies in a wide range of sectors including TV, engineering, marketing, education, energy, manufacturing etc etc. I would love to say something like "we had a circus company using Resource Guru to schedule their elephants, lions, acrobats and strong men". But sadly all the usage scenarios we've heard of are fairly straight laced and not one of them has made us laugh. But we're forever hopeful! :)

(5) What is your ideal method/process for managing projects?

I actually used to mostly work with a waterfall process when I was a PM many years ago. And I think it gets a much worse rap than it should. There are a number of benefits to the waterfall process - if it's done right! One of them is potential cost savings over Agile. But I am also a fan of Agile development. However, you do need to be aware of the downside - which is that you may end up with much less than you first hoped for.

The biggest thing I strive for, regardless of the process, is cut down documentation wherever possible - especially the stuff that no-one ever reads. And increase communication wherever possible!

(6) As a founder of a growing start-up,what is your leadership style?

To be honest, we are such a small company at the moment that there are not many people to lead. We are also averse to corporate hierarchies so, when we do get bigger, we will probably always have a very inclusive, collaborative style. I think people at all levels can make huge contributions and need to have a voice.

(7) Emotional Intelligence is a key element of Gorilla Theory. How important is EI and people skills in a startup environment (from internal team dynamics to how it affects sales and biz dev)

Wow - I think it's massive. The older I get, the more I realise that it's all about personal relationships and the chemistry between people that makes the ultimate difference.

(8) Traits you find in the most effective project managers/project leaders?

- The ability to facilitate communication between members of the team.
- The ability to be highly organised - does this go without saying?
- Some people might disagree with this but I think high levels of industry knowledge can be very useful. Eg if you're a digital PM, then having a technical understanding of the web will really help. Equally, if you're a PM in construction, then the more you know about building and architecture, the better. I have actually heard people argue against this to a degree.
- Passion about what you do.
- The ability to understand human motivation and be empathetic - the emotional intelligence that you refer to.

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