This post is all about managing projects with plenty of prep.
I have just been asked to oversee/consult on a complex “first of its kind” web project at work which has been in development for over 8 months. Having reviewed the web app in detail I’m not overly impressed with it… it lacks connectivity, has a poorly designed layout and offers inferior UX; and it has way too many bugs and glitches. Given the fledgling nature of the app it is no surprise that there is a period of experimentation and generally I think credit is due to the last PM.
So, now it is my broken web app! In order to move this project along quickly and efficiently I have recruited a small team, one of which was already working on the project and the second is my current digital executive who has a background in gaming. Between the three of us we have (just about) enough skills to push on. Two other members of the team are editing the content, so now we’re set!
Having jumped right into the middle of this project, I want to share some tips with you. These are some things that I have observed requiring immediate correction, so that we can recoup some crucial time. This post is to help you avoid these same mistakes.
Tip no1: Get a knowledgeable project manager
The project leader must have some knowledge of how websites work and a bit of lingo goes a long way– you don’t want to be in a meeting and be confused at the first hurdle. The Project Manager should also have a clear view of what the project should deliver. In smaller companies, all members of staff should be involved in scoping out the project. The overall target should include: ROI, purpose of site, timescale for development, testing etc, target audience …
Tip no2: Recruit a good team to support you
For a well constructed web project and in my case application, the project team needs to believe in it. If you find that you are trying to sell features to another team member, that individual might not be a good fit. Each member should bring different skills and expertise and as the saying goes, two heads are better than one!
Tip no3: Find an agency that understands you as a brand / company
I think whoever helps develop your project must be, to a certain extent, in agreement with your company’s views and ideas. Without this cohesion cracks will perhaps begin to appear. Spend time with the agency and build up a good relationship so that things can be discussed openly and criticism can also be spoken about without feelings being hurt. The biggest issue that can arise is that the agency wants to part ways with you in the middle of the development phase.
Tip no4: Scoping
Involve all parties. If it is a large project with lots of component parts, the more heads the better (see Tip no2!). The worst thing would be to scope it out on your own, in isolation. Scoping out the web project should be done from the point of view of the user. Think of tiny details — down to the font size. Tiny details confirmed by you before you go to the agency will save you time and money, and will make it much easier for the developer.
Tip no5: Development
During development, make sure you have a team ready to do some user acceptance testing. “Test, Test, Test” is all I will say on this point!
Tip no6: Launch
Prepare for the launch alongside development. You will be surprised at how much there is to think about.
- Where will you launch the new web app?
- How much budget will be allocated to marketing?
- Who’s in charge of promotion and sales?
Tip no7: The future
Remember that nothing like this should be developed from the point of view of ‘ the here and now’. Always think about evolving the product and adapting to user preference, as well as ensuring that you’re ready to react to rising market trends. If you focus on today only, you might only be successful in the short term: build your brand to last!
I hope you found my seven tips useful and very best of luck with whatever you are working on.