Chris O’Halloran is the founder and principal project management consultant at Striking Group pty ltd, a Brisbane based consultancy targeted at helping small and medium sized business beat the big boys, with offices in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
He is also the co-founder and director of Pimovation Pty Ltd, a Brisbane based technology startup building advanced project management software called Grapple using the latest technology and industry best practices.
Chris holds qualifications in Prince2, Agile and PMI’s PMBoK project management approaches and is an active member of the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), the International Project Management Association (IPMA) and the Project Management Institute (PMI). His papers and blogs can be found on his blog: Striking Project Management.
strikingprojectmanagement.com @strikinggroup @grapplepm LinkedIN
What if I could create an app that became the Project Management Plan? It was a light bulb moment!
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
I have always been an early adopter of technology and tools that make my life, both personal and professional, easier. I had the first iphone when it was launched, then the first ipad; these devices were so powerful, I immediately saw their benefit for project management.
The key document for the project manager is undoubtedly the Project Management Plan, its like a blueprint for the project, its the document that outlines what will be done, how it will be done, by who, determines quality levels and key risks. Its like the business plan for businesses.
I wanted to be able to keep my Project Management Plan and all other tools and documents with me at all times, whether I was in the office, travelling, meeting suppliers or conducting site visits. I moved all my project documents to my ipad and created editable PDF’s for infield capturing and signatures. I was mobile!
Then I started to re-think the Project Plan… What if there was no need for a Project Management Plan? What if I could create an app that became the Project Management Plan? It was a light bulb moment. I ran the idea past a few other colleagues and the feedback was positive; I ended up partnering with Aaron Hudson and Grapple was born.
Please explain your business model.
The business model is a fairly traditional Software as a Service (SaaS) approach, in that we build the software and out customers rent it from us at rates much lower than they would normally have to spend. The software is cloud hosted which allows us to roll out features weekly and rapidly build the features our users want.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next three months?
At the moment we have launched our prototype version of Grapple as a proof of concept, and are now concentrating on securing external funding and the development team to build out version 1.
We recently ran the International Project Management Association’s Young Crew in Croatia, which was a blast and great international exposure for Grapple.
How do you make ideas happen?
Being a non-technical founder, launching a software as a service product was daunting. But the project manager in me knew I had to break down the steps involved to launching a product into manageable bits, and work out what I could do and what I couldn’t.
The things I could do were:
- Talk with prospective customers
- Document the software’s requirements
- Market research
- Find and secure an advisory board
- Design interfaces
- Workflow software
Once all that was done, all we really needed to do was find someone to actually build it. There are plenty of options there.
What does your typical day look like?
Well Grapple is pre-revenue and I have kids to feed so I work as a consultant as my day job, either helping clients with their project management processes, or full blown turn key project delivery 9-5. I then spend the hours of 7-am and 7-9pm working on moving Grapple forward, things like:
- Skype calls with the development team
- Content creation
- Sketching out workflows
- Interface design layouts
- Investment presentations
- Paying bills
Everything and anything it takes to keep the project moving forward; its not very glamorous I assure you!
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Finding great software talent has been hard and there is not much of a startup community in Australia. It’s getting better and there are a few new communities now in Brisbane, but we have a long way to go before we are anywhere near the likes of Silicon Valley.
The road to seeking investment has also posed challenges, but I am confident we will get there in the next 3-6 months!
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
Ideas are cheap, its the execution that is important.
What people/companies/organisations do you think are doing really cool stuff in your industry, in Australia at the moment?
The Australian Institute of Project Management are really helping to engage businesses and encourage the use of best practice project management to reduce wastage.
What about internationally?
Podio is great tool for people to create a simple project management tool with; I have created many project management systems for clients using this tool.
What role do you think business can play in affecting social change?
I think there is huge scope for businesses to give back and drive social change and no more at the coalface than project managers. If every project considered how their project could be tweaked to incorporate some social change, it would be an amazing place. A mentor of mine once said: “as Project Managers, we need to BE the change”.
I would love to be in a position where I could utilise my project management skills to help nations recover from disasters, and help other struggling nations get the most bang for their buck.
Speaking of affecting social change, is there a particular charity you think deserves support?
Gates Foundation: I think this is an amazing way for one of the worlds most successful businessman to give back. Too many of the worlds wealthy are selfish.
Name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers.
Name 3 Australians we should follow on Twitter.
Terrible I know, but no one notable comes to mind 🙁
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea (e.g. are you looking for funding, interns, marketing help)?
Absolutely, just send me an email.
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
I live on the Gold Coast, so I would have to say Raw and Sanctuary Cove
We thought it would be cool to crowdsource an annual prize to award to the interviewee’s choice (each person interviewed gets one vote) winner for the year’s best interview. Are you willing to kick in a prize?