September 21, 2017

Control Your Website Project Management Costs


Here’s a riddle for you: Designers, website developers, and business leaders are all very different, but there’s one issue that unites them all. What is it? Answer: Website project management costs, which are often wildly unpredictable and unmanageable.

Whether you’re creating a life science website or designing an app, project management often makes up a huge chunk of any project’s price tag. Controlling project costs before they get out-of-hand is so difficult that a whopping 75% of IT and business teams believe their projects are “doomed right from the start”. 80% say they spend at least half of their time reworking and revising their existing content.

You definitely don’t want to be part of that massive majority–wouldn’t it’d be nice to complete a project without stress, frustration, and a hole in your pocket? That being said, why do projects fail so badly?

Often, website project management hours and expenses grow bulky and unwieldy because project managers are missing one of these traits:

Credibility
Efficiency
Expertise

A bloated, stumbling team might even lack all of them! Fortunately, great project managers will be able to corral these criminals and keep them in check. Let’s take out our magnifying glasses and get a closer look at these issues.

Website Project Management Issue 1: Credibility

Problem: Some “project managers” are not actually project managers.

Project Management is an intense, varied field with mountains of its own literature, software, education, tools, method, and history. Definitely complex, to say the least. That’s why you might find it strange to know that some people who have no experience in the field like to pretend they’re professional “project managers”.

Granted, some “project managers” with no prior education or experience end up doing an awesome job. But most of the time, it doesn’t work that way. It’d be like calling a pancake a macaron. Delicious? Yes, but two totally different treats.

Solution: Ask your project managers about their history.

When you’re beginning a new project, make sure to ask your project manager about their qualifications. Here are some questions you could ask:

  • Do you have a degree (preferably a Masters or even a PhD!) in project management?
  • Are you properly certified?
  • How many years have you been working as a project manager?
  • Is website project management your core role?
  • Can I take a look at previous projects you’ve worked on?

Website Project Management Issue 2: Efficiency

Problem: Some project managers are very inefficient.

Managing projects is like building a house. You can’t do it all by hand–you need tools. As the scale of your project widens, it becomes more exhausting (not to mention costly!) to rely on e-mail, fax, “snail” mail, and traditional word composition. Time wasted trying to contact team members or consolidate content is time that could be spent making progress and meeting deadlines.

It’s also costly to “wing it” and rush headlong into a project without a clear plan. Winging it is great for solo travelers, but when you’re working on a large project with lots of team members? Not so much.

Outlining a clear project process and proceeding with the proper tools from the start can save time, money, and effort.In a nationwide study, PwC found that using PM software increases performance and satisfaction all around. Unfortunately, despite these clear benefits, 44% of project managers use no software at all.

Solution: Learn about your project manager’s methods and tools.

Good teams run on good software. Ask your project manager about the tools and methods they implement. If they have no idea what Kanban and Scrum are, that’s probably not a good sign. What are their opinions on Basecamp, Teamwork, and Trello?

The software a project manager uses doesn’t matter as much as their reasoning for using it. How do they run their team and what management tools do they use to help everything run smoothly? Do they know how to work efficiently with their colleagues? Have they figured out what works best for them and their clients?

“The software a project manager uses doesn’t matter as much as their reasoning for using it.”

Website Project Management Issue 3: Expertise

Problem: Some project managers just don’t understand the project.

Most PMs know that in order to finish a project, all the steps in the process have to be completed. Easy as 1, 2, 3, right? But do your project managers really understand your business? Do they have a clear concept of the deliverable? If you’re in contract for a new life science website and need it hosted on WordPress, you wouldn’t choose a project manager that exclusively uses Squarespace, right? If you want to learn how to decorate wedding cakes, you probably wouldn’t call Gordon Ramsay.

So: are your project managers up to date with news in the life science industry? Do they even know what life sciences are? (And no, Bobby, they’re not “life plus science, or something like that”).

Solution: Ensure that your website project manager understands the deliverable.

Make sure that your PM has experience! Ask them to walk through a demo with you and explain what’s going on. You could ask about a past project they managed and guided to success, and about their background knowledge of the deliverable.

Be on the lookout for project managers that constantly defer your questions to other members of their team (hint: this usually means they don’t understand the project). Great project managers have clear visions of their deliverable and are able to turn that vision into reality. In contrast, if your PM’s vision is just a fuzzy haze of “um”s and “uh”s, chances are they’ll lead you into murky waters.

Conclusion

Properly managed projects make life easier for everyone. When projects run within budget and meet all their deadlines, everyone benefits! Do your due diligence to ensure that the project manager you’ve tasked with managing your website actually knows a thing or two (or preferably, a lot) about managing website projects! After all, project managers are not made the same: some may not even be from the same planet! (We are though. We promise. We’re not aliens).