Michael Poythress, Project Manager in Portland, OR, United States
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Michael Poythress

Verified Expert  in Project Management

Project Manager

Portland, OR, United States
Toptal Member Since
February 11, 2019

Michael excels at engineering technology, interacting with colleagues, and at developing processes to solve everyday problems for people and organizations—both large and small. As a proficient Agile product manager and design leader, he has been planning and delivering web and mobile projects for business and end consumers for the past 18 years. He also has extensive experience in strategic architecture and end-to-end solution creation.

Project Highlights

Remote Work Consulting
Built—or advised in the creation and leadership of—more than 20 successful, high-functioning remote teams.
Multi-channel Online Sales Platform
Led from ground up the development of an eCommerce marketplace sales-and-data platform for small and mid-size businesses.
Custom CRM for BBVA Compass
Led development of a complex, internal CRM for tracking accounts and leads in a high-security, enterprise bank environment.


Work Experience

Project Manager | Product Owner

2014 - PRESENT
RetailMakr (eCommerce Platform)
  • Managed the development roadmap and a team of engineers to enhance and support a web-based software platform with 99.999% uptime.
  • Set project strategy, direction, and priorities based on extensive user and stakeholder interviews.
  • Defined company-wide tools and processes to implement Agile methodology across all teams (using tools including but not limited to Jira, Aha!, Asana, Trello, and Slack), as the company grew from processing 0 up to 10,000 orders per month.
  • Grew the company from 1 to over 25 remote employees in two years and drove the development of associated processes and organizational structure for lean, continuous improvement.
  • Selected and trained new team members, establishing an employee onboarding process that got new employees productive within two weeks.
  • Successfully raised outside investment through authoring and presenting business overview materials and due-diligence documentation.
  • Maintained business awareness of the board of directors and company executives through regular progress and timeline reporting.
  • Led the creation of real-time data dashboards to support all aspects of the business, using visualization tools such as Mode Analytics.

Digital Project Manager, CTO

2013 - 2014
Brickstr (Cause Marketing Application and Network)
  • Documented project features and requirements, user profiles, and user stories through in-depth business analysis and discussions with founders.
  • Built an agreed-upon project plan, timeline, and budget in coordination with business owners.
  • Designed overall platform and system architecture, and produced an interactive prototype of the application.
  • Selected, onboarded and managed two programming teams working remotely, to deliver a native iOS app and web application and API server from concept to beta within three months.

Project Manager | Owner

2008 - 2014
Company 52 (Web Development Agency)
  • Led more than 70 web and mobile projects to completion for 50+ clients in a variety of industries.
  • Created and launched six online SaaS products.
  • Built and led a team of designers and programmers (all remote) to execute on multiple projects simultaneously.
  • Translated between visionaries and technical specialists to create project estimates, proposals, and plans.
  • Negotiated contracts with small business owners and large business executives.
  • Handled all of the operational aspects of the business, including strategy, resource management, team development, and customer contacts.
  • Implemented Agile methodologies as scrum master for numerous simultaneous client projects, with weekly sprints and reviews and daily stand-ups.
  • Coordinated closely with clients and engineering team to complete each product on spec, on budget, and on schedule (often with tight deadlines).
  • Applied Kanban methodologies for ongoing project maintenance and support.

Project Manager | Founder

2007 - 2009
Glarity Media Store
  • Developed a business model and web application from the ground up to produce an online media store—similar to iTunes—for a niche market.
  • Defined the MVP, product requirements, feature roadmap, and user stories; all based on conversations with target users and customers.
  • Recruited the team and managed team culture, leading a team of ~ten people.
  • Coordinated the efforts of multiple graphic designers and programmers across the country to produce the application in Agile sprints.
  • Set up and maintained the physical server infrastructure required for the project.
  • Raised seed funding.

Remote Work Consulting

Built—or advised in the creation and leadership of—more than 20 successful, high-functioning remote teams.

ROLE: Remote Work Consultant

With more than 20 years of experience in full-time remote work, I have been an integral part of forming and leading teams in partially remote, mostly remote, remote-first, and 100% remote structures.

I have learned best-practices (and what NOT to do) through personal experience at more than a dozen organizations, ranging from startups with more than ten employees to medium/large enterprises with more than 500 employees.

My first-hand contributions include (but are not limited to) the following activities:

• Evaluated and selected tools for remote team productivity.
• Established and introduced policies and practices for remote team communication and engagement.
• Interviewed, hired, trained, supervised and terminated staff and contractors, across multiple continents and time zones.
• Maintained data security and regulatory compliance.

Multi-channel Online Sales Platform

Led from ground up the development of an eCommerce marketplace sales-and-data platform for small and mid-size businesses.

This project set out to create a software-based service that would provide a simple, painless, no-cost option for retail businesses to get online orders.

While coordinating with—and catering to—more than ten distinct user groups, our team developed an elegant and user-friendly interface for a very complex set of tools used to do a variety of tasks:
• Manage products.
• Publish product listings on marketplaces such as Amazon, Walmart, and eBay.
• Adjust prices automatically based on real-time competitive market prices.
• Select the best supplier for each order based on stock availability.
• Select shipping carriers for an order based on the best cost and service.

This PHP/Laravel enterprise platform is now successfully handling eCommerce sales for hundreds of companies, using algorithms, machine learning, APIs, financial processing, security, reporting, and big data; additional features and capabilities are also being continually added.

ANS: Business Management Platform

Transformed manual business processes (paper, email, phone, fax) into a completely digital workflow.

This is a regional product merchandising company with a staff of over 250 people that manages the product layouts for a major US retailer. Each employee submits an average of 5-10 task and status reports per week to the home office. These were being submitted via paper, email, phone, faxes, etc.—and then manually entered into spreadsheets for reporting.

As the project manager, I led the discovery process to define and document the business needs and requirements and worked closely with the business owner and executives to develop a multi-year project plan (including schedule and roadmap) that would digitize the entire business with a web and mobile application.

I then led a team of UX designers and programmers to produce that application using agile development processes, with bi-weekly sprints and progress reviews.

The project was a success—meeting or exceeding every goal the client had—giving them greater efficiency and profitability through new products and services.

Private, Secure Web Browser and Rewards Network

Produced a project plan and set up the tools to coordinate efforts of numerous teams.

Here, I worked closely with founders to understand the product vision from a conceptual stage and then expand that into a full set of detailed project documents—including user/stakeholder definitions, user stories, feature requirements and roadmap, timeline and milestones, and budget.

I then populated that data into online project management tickets for use by programmers and other project collaborators.

Essentially the project is a privacy-oriented mobile and desktop browser that uses blockchain technologies for security and anonymity and an ad marketplace to provide user rewards for enabling opt-in advertising

Inventory Management System

Introduced mission-critical inventory management capabilities to an existing enterprise platform—overnight.

With no prior "large warehouse" or fulfillment center inventory management experience, I was assigned to lead a team in inventorying all the products in a 100,000 square foot warehouse and obtain data that had been integrated to an eCommerce platform for immediate sale and fulfillment.

Using an agile development process, I led programmers to rapidly deliver a functional MVP and the stock-taker team was able to begin using it in the warehouse the very next day. This inventory management system has been gradually enhanced and is still in active use.

Bonlavi Products

Brought two brand new physical products to market for a new consumer brand.

As the project manager, I used Kanban and Waterfall processes to locate, select, and coordinate the efforts of a product designer, packaging designer, manufacturer, product photographer, and distribution partners.

The products were manufactured internationally, then imported to and sold in the US through multiple outlets, including Amazon.com.

My role also involved reviewing and giving feedback on multiple design prototype iterations, meeting "retail-ready" packaging standards, arranging international freight/shipping logistics, US customs, warehousing, and fulfillment.

To Your Success: Business Management Application

Removed barriers to growth by replacing seven separate software tools with a single custom web application.

A mid-size customer appreciation gift company was unable to grow further, due to using a series of time-consuming manual processes to transfer information between completely disconnected software tools—for accounting, inventory management, CRM, shipping, surveys and responses, product customization, and order processing.

I led a team to design and build a custom web application to streamline the business processes—all within a firm budget—using Agile methodologies.

The new application met and exceeded the owners' goals, and has enabled a new wave of growth and profitability through new products and services. Five of the previous software tools were completely replaced, and the remaining two are now tightly coupled with the main application through API integrations.

Digital Video Purchase and Streaming Platform

Led the development from design mockup to launch for a paid streaming video learning platform.

Working closely with the product owner, I led a team of front-end and back-end engineers to create a fully functional application based on a set of visual mockups.

The project was on a very tight deadline to be complete in time for a trade show and utilized Agile development methodology with weekly sprints and progress reviews.

Built primarily with PHP and JavaScript, the project involved interfacing with multiple vendors and complex technologies for video processing/transcoding, adaptive bitrate video streaming, complex PCI-compliant payment processing (split transaction) models, and customizable design themes for client sites—responsive for use on both desktop and mobile devices.

The platform was successfully launched and our team also handled the setup of a second video platform, utilizing this code, under license, as a foundation.

Loan Portfolio Management Application

Created a proprietary core banking system for account and transaction management and interest calculation.

Here, I worked closely with the managing director of a small regional lender to define the requirements for—and build—a web-based portfolio management system.

Built primarily with PHP and MySQL, the "core banking" system was engineered as a double-entry accounting primary ledger, to track borrower profiles and their accounts. It also handled the tracking of accrued interest, payment processing via ACH/bank network, and included a customer-facing login site.

Rainmaker Tweet2Give—Social Giving

Launched Twitter-based financial transaction processing.

Our team successfully created and launched an online service that could be added to a user's Twitter account and connect with the user's PayPal account and/or credit card to initiate payments by posting a tweet including a hashtag (#makeitrain) or username, and an amount.

Designed as an alternative to "text to give," specifically for social cause marketing and raising awareness for needs, we coordinated a roll-out with a handful of non-profits and celebrities.

As the project manager, I led engineers and a graphic designer to a rapid launch using lean, Agile development processes and coordinated the application and audit processes for service partners.

Custom CRM for BBVA Compass

Led development of a complex, internal CRM for tracking accounts and leads in a high-security, enterprise bank environment.

Here, I selected and led a team of engineers to deliver features on time, to meet business-critical contractual deadlines for a large national bank.

The application tracks thousands of data points for each of 7 million+ accounts and passed a SAS 70 (now SSAE 16) audit.

As the engineering project manager, I implemented Agile methodologies and tools to coordinate the efforts of multiple teams and vendors as we prioritized and completed the backlog of requests.

There were numerous stakeholders and expectations to manage—in a high-stakes, high-stress scenario—but we did it successfully and launched the application on time.

52 Deals Flash Sale Platform

Launched and operated a multi-city "flash sale" platform, similar to Groupon.

The owner of a local Groupon competitor had a large email list and was fed up with the technology he was trying to use for his flash-sale site.

Our team worked closely with this business owner to develop a new application using Agile methodologies. After launch, we used a Kanban process to provide ongoing maintenance and operational support.

The project included working with designers, engineers, and multiple vendors (payment processors, email delivery, local franchisees) to maintain a very high up-time under high traffic load, and on strict schedule deadlines.

This platform served email lists of approximately 200,000 addresses, and successfully processed thousands of financial transactions per day.

Real Estate Advertising Website

Created a leading regional real estate advertising website and network (precursor to Zillow and Trulia).

The business and website began as manually-created HTML pages created by two people, serving a single city.

I led a small team of developers and designers—over a period of several years—to meet the needs of three different stakeholder groups and evolved the site into a database-driven platform serving multiple cities and states with the content being maintained by many non-technical local representatives.

Our team was one of the earliest users of data feeds and content scraping. All done in the efforts to increase marketing reach through an online content syndication network.

Private Pilot