The Ins and Outs of Successful Project Management

The Ins and Outs of Successful Project Management

Account and project management is an art form. It really is. And, it’s something I’ve done for the majority of my career so I’m no stranger to the process and the various pitfalls that come with it. It’s a complex role that requires agility, attention to detail, and ongoing collaboration. Your job is never over after a kickoff call; it’s just beginning.

In this month’s post, I’m going to dive into Web project management and outline some of the key phases of a project.

All our Web projects fall into four categories:

  • Strategy
  • Design
  • Build
  • Release

While the Manager is a part of each phase, they really shine in the beginning (Strategy) and the end (Release). In Strategy they’re responsible for:

  • Project Setup – Creating the project through internal systems and organizing initial tasks.
  • Kickoff (Internal/External) – Scheduling and managing both the internal and external kickoff meetings. This includes addressing any follow-up action items.
  • Project Plan – The creation and ongoing management of the project plan which contains the following base items.
    • Budget – Understanding budget/scope and assigning values to tasks and activities for the project.
    • Schedule – The full schedule of the project agreed to by the team and client (with Risk). Often managed in an ongoing format like a Gantt Chart.
    • Architecture / Sitemap – The menu structure of the website includes all tiers of navigation. Sometimes done in collaboration with members of the Web team.
    • Requirements – The written details of all special features and forms for the website. Written in as much detail as possible.
  • Approval – Seeking approvals and information through every element of the Project Plan.
  • Task Assignment – Updating tasks in accordance with the Project Plan and project scope.

Account/Project Manager Responsibilities

As a project moves through the Strategy phase, and all others, the Manager is ensuring that we are hitting all the goals and objectives we’ve outlined for the project. This includes communicating changes to timelines with the client and team when it’s necessary to do so.

At all times the Manager is aware of the status of a project and on many occasions, is responsible for enforcing deadlines and expectations that have been promised to a client previously.

At the end of the day, the Manager is one of the most critical roles on the entire team. They carry the weight of projects, customer experience, and outcomes for a wide range of services. Every project is different and every challenge is uniquely complex. Your goal is to reach the finish line within budget and schedule (not always possible).

Success Begins with Accountability

A team must be kept accountable on a regular basis to meet the needs of clients and stakeholders. Strong collaboration and communication increase the chances of your success. Every day that you don’t have movement on a project results in an overall slide to your schedule. 10 days without movement means you’re revising the whole schedule altogether.

Project slides are difficult to understand, but they’re common and happen all the time for a whole range of reasons I’m not going to get into today. However, what I will say, is that it’s each team member’s responsibility to effectively communicate their needs, etc and each person should hold the full team accountable for those communications.

Projects can go weeks or months without movement and in those times it’s common for a Manager or Client to say “we got everything we need, when can we wrap this up?” The real question becomes, “have you revised your project schedule yet?”. The Project Plan is the holy grail of documents and managing a schedule means always updating your documentation to reflect the current state of the project …. And the client should be made aware too! Just because you’re ready to move forward after 6 months of delays doesn’t mean your project is front-loaded and completed immediately. This would be at the detriment of other Clients who have projects on track (in terms of schedule).

It’s a tough one, I know 😐 

The Fruits of Labor

There’s nothing better than seeing a project through to completion. Especially difficult ones or really old projects that have been around a while. We maintain an average project age of about 120-140 days. Sometimes longer, sometimes less and we’re proud of our efforts to push projects through from inception to launch. 

Getting things unstuck and out the door feels good. We all like that feeling and it’s our goal to deliver that experience for our internal and external stakeholders. Project Managers are highly valued and their contributions are what make the whole machine run.

Sure, the machine is going to break down sometimes but as co-conspirators, we’re all here to lift each other up and execute.

I love our project teams from SEO to content, development, and managers. We all work together to create the best product possible for all our clients.

As always, thank you for reading and I’ll see you…as usual…next month. Cheers!