The Project Management Institute has predicted that by 2027, there will be roughly 88 million roles in, and related to, project management. Methods and tools to allow individuals to PM projects properly continues to evolve, and our PMs try to utilise the best out there.
Good practice PM-ship runs through all of our work and it’s the senior project managers and client services directors who are closest to influencing how we make projects run smoothly. But a major factor is how our best-practice methods, and tools are implemented. So, introducing Anne, one of our junior PMs who is here to give her 60 second view on the important aspects of a website project.
Anne has been part of the team at Nurture for almost two years (as of Q1 2020) and during that time she has worked on a number of high-profile projects ranging in size so we decided to pose her some questions.
1. What do you think is the single most important thing for a client to think about?
“I’m not sure there is a single most important thing when thinking about a project. There are always lots of moving parts and things that need attention. Having said that, I do think one of the most important things for clients to think about is keeping to a realistic timeline. We often work to very tight deadlines and this means that creating and sticking to a manageable timeline is vitally important. When creating the timeline, it’s important to consider resourcing on both sides and account for this to ensure that deadlines will be met.
For example, some things to think about on the client side might be: are you going to be creating new content for your website, and if so, do you have the resources to reach the deadline required? Content is an area where we see a lot of people fail to meet deadlines, so I would recommend thinking about it as early as possible to avoid it becoming a blocker later down the road. Are there enough people to UAT the website so that fixes can be made quickly in a tight turnaround? How many posts will be needed to port into the new site – do you need to keep everything from 2018 or would it be better to just move over content from 2019?
It might be tempting to try to fit everything you’ve ever wanted into your new website, but if you have a tight deadline, it just may not be possible. In some cases, we may need to split project requirements into different phases, with some work being done post-live or as part of a managed service. It’s important to keep a clear prioritisation of work and ensure that you are ready to meet all of your deadlines.
Once a timeline has been created, it is important that you stick to it. If deadlines are missed, it may affect future work and mean the timeline will need to be pushed out. As long as you are realistic about what you can achieve from the beginning, this shouldn’t be a problem and it will make for a more relaxed, more enjoyable project.”
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2. What tools do you find most useful when doing a Nurture website project?
“Jira and confluence are probably the tools I use most whilst working on a Nurture website project. Both are a great way to keep the project organised and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. Jira is a great way to keep the client involved as they can see the work we are doing as we progress through the project and can raise issues directly without having to resort to complicated email chains where things might get lost.
The design team also use a wide range of tools to help ensure that design runs smoothly. Some of our teams favourites are Figma, Miro and Invision, which are all critical for the design phases and QA part of each project. They each have a collaborative approach, allowing the team to collaborate easily and shape their work to meet the clients needs.
Smartsheet is another great tool for tracking timelines of projects. Again, this can easily be shared with the client and allows you to set dependencies for certain items and easily keep track of the project as a whole.”
3. What part of the project do you dread most, and why?
“The worst part of projects is having to push the timeline out. Even though though this common and happens on quite a few projects it can still be frustrating for both sides of the project. It can happen for a number of reasons, such as missed deadlines or changing requirements and it isn’t always a bad thing, so it’s nothing to worry about as a client. Sometimes it means we can add more features into the site or transfer over more posts or give the client more time to get their content created. But it can be complicated to have to rework timelines, and no one likes their project to be moved out because of delays.
To combat this we also often included a ‘phrased release’ on larger projects, meaning that we included 2 to 3 different dates and we release different features or aspects of the site on different dates. This helps to ensure that the clients targets are met and doesn’t put too much strain on our team.”
4. What three tips would you give a project manager acting on the client side of a website build?
- “Be communicative if you know you aren’t going to reach deadlines. Sometimes deadlines are missed for a number of reasons that can’t be avoided, the important thing is to communicate these issues as soon as they arise so we can work together to help solve them, or create a more realistic timeline, rather than waiting until the deadline has arrived and there isn’t much that can be done about it.”
- “Make sure you keep everyone in the loop. This is another tip about communication, but honestly, good communication is the cornerstone of a great project. In this case, it’s important to make sure that your communication is extended across all areas of the project to ensure that everyone is working on the same page. Even for smaller clients, there are usually a few different teams involved and things can get messy if everyone isn’t working together. For example, if you know you will need the designs and copy to be approved by your legal and compliance team, make sure you introduce them to the work you’re doing early on! It is far easier to adjust content to fit compliance requirements whilst you are creating it, than it is once the content has been built into an almost-complete site. Or, in another case, if you have a separate team working on content, make sure you keep them up to date on any changes in the design or sitemap to ensure that pages don’t get missed. There are often hundreds of action points and considerations in a web build so it’s vital that it’s a collaborative, at the end of the day it’s a team effort.”
- “Get comfortable working with Jira to avoid long email threads that can easily be missed. Emails are a necessary part of projects, especially in the discovery phase. However, as we move further into the project, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the other tools we use, such as Jira. Jira is a better way to keep everything organised and ensure that things aren’t missed – everyone on the project can access it at any time, making it a transparent way to keep everyone in the loop. Clients that haven’t used Jira before will be given a training session as part of UAT, so there’s no excuse not to use it!”
5. Finally, what do you like most about projects?
“The thing I like most about projects is knowing that the client is happy with the finished product and the process of getting there! It’s always satisfying when clients tell me they love the designs we’ve created, or they enjoyed working on the project, or that the board members of their organisation are impressed with the site we’ve built. It’s very satisfying to see a site we’ve all worked hard on go live and look amazing! Especially if we continue to work with the client in a managed service capacity.”
A massive thank you to Anne for those wonderful tips! It’s been so interesting getting an insight into the process and learning a little more about project management!
If you want to learn more then why not check another of our interviews. This time it’s with Jen, another of our project managers, and she told us all of her top tips to ensure that your project runs smoothly! Be sure to head over and see what you think.