Understanding Project Management
Behind every web project is a skillful team of designers, developers, content strategists, user experience researchers, data scientists, QA experts, and a project manager. The project manager coordinates the team’s efforts and oversees the web design and development project from start to finish. To explore the discipline of project management, we interviewed our project managers, Carrie Barker and Megan Boly.
WHAT IS PROJECT MANAGEMENT?
Project management involves planning, organizing, guiding, and supervising projects to produce successful, on-time, and on-budget results. Here at SiteCrafting, our project managers oversee the entire lifecycle of each web design and development project, while also serving as the main point of contact for all client communication and support.
Life of a Project Manager
In the beginning stages of a web project, the project manager (PM) facilitates both internal and client kickoff meetings to ensure that the client’s needs and objectives are clearly understood. “We are the clients' partners in the web process to help them attain their goals,” says Megan. These initial client meetings are extremely important in order to determine the project’s scope and requirements. Once the project’s specifications are finalized, the PM is responsible for developing timeframes, due dates, and budgets.
To smoothly manage each web project, the PM strategically forms an interdisciplinary team based on the project’s requirements. When forming teams, the PM gathers members from various departments including content strategy, design, development, and user experience.
Once the team begins working on the project, the PM remains the primary client contact and keeps the client informed of the project’s status through meetings, email, and phone conversations. The PM gathers relevant resources, documentation, and information to provide answers for all client questions and concerns. During all stages of work, the PM monitors the project’s process and makes adjustments to the scope, timeline, or budget if necessary. From the beginning to final stages, keeping an eye on the project details is crucial to the health of a project.
Once the web project is launched, the PM communicates the success both internally and with our clients. However, launching does not signify the end of a project. Our PMs maintain close relationships with our clients after launching as SiteCrafting aims to keep all websites fresh, current, and relevant.
Skills of a PM
In order to successfully manage a web project, a PM must possess excellent communication, negotiation, and organizational skills. Desirable practical skills include being observant and being good at note taking. In addition, a calm, even-tempered personality helps during difficult or challenging times that may arise during the course of a project. Good project managers empathize with their team members and clients. Carrie explains, “Being a good translator and knowing what people are saying, wanting, and asking is very valuable.”
THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Project managers assume a facilitator role and collaborate with other departments, making sure all components are moving along and working properly. “We make sure that the ball is rolling in the proper direction,” says Megan. A successful PM has good relationships with all team members and views each individual as an expert in their area and as a valuable contributor to the project.
CHALLENGES AND REWARDS
One challenge encountered in the field of project management is working within specific time and budget constraints. The project manager must continually balance resources, including both time and people, in order to achieve the desired results. If problems arise, the project manager must have a good understanding of the client’s history and expectations in order to keep the project moving along. To keep problems to a minimum, our project managers begin each project by collaborating with both the client and team members to clearly define goals, expectations, roles, and responsibilities.
For both Megan and Carrie, one of the most rewarding aspects of the job is supporting the client and seeing their vision become a reality. They also enjoy getting to know new clients, businesses, and industries, and helping them become more successful.
A common misconception about project management is that the job is an easy one. However, being a successful PM is harder than one might assume. For instance, PMs do a lot of translation between tech developers and clients to make the technical information consumable, so they must be tech savvy. Also, PMs must be extremely organized and be able to easily juggle multiple projects and teams. As Carrie explains, “When you’re calm, people may assume you’re not needed. But really, you’re taming all the fires. When there are no fires going on, that’s a successful PM.”
Exciting news! We’re adding one more department to our Breakdown series. Look for these final two Breakdown blogs:
- Quality assurance (QA)
- ADDED: Data science
In the meantime, catch up on the previous Breakdown posts:
Be sure to connect with us on social media to keep up with our team, blog posts, projects, events, and more.
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