Continued from ‘Best Practices for Planning a Website Project.’
Most problems in project management are the result of inefficient communication or lack of it. In order to prevent issues from occurring, it is a good idea to determine roles of everyone involved at the outset of the project.
I strongly urge assigning a single point of contact on each side. This will ensure clear and consistent communications. These individuals can then be responsible for communicating with their respective teams. Having a single point of contact on each side will help avoid contradicting or conflicting communication that often occurs when multiple members on both sides try to communicate effectively. Direct communication among them is acceptable and often productive, but be sure there is consistent and definitive communication between the designated managers.
Project Manager on Your Side
Before embarking on the project, select a Project Manager. This individual will be responsible for communicating with the web developer’s team and is responsible for the overall success of the project. Be certain that this individual has sufficient time and resources at their disposal in order to manage communications effectively. Someone who is preoccupied with other projects, lacks the knowledge of the website or lacks authority to make decisions is not the right project manager. In fact, a poor choice here may negatively impact your project, so be thorough and discerning in your decision-making process. Your project manager should have a solid working knowledge of your business, your processes and your current website (if there is one). This individual should have time and resources to manage the project, as well as the authority to make decisions or have a close working relationship with the decision makers.
As part of this process, be sure that the web developer’s team has the contact information for your project manager, the decision makers and all team members associated with the project.
Account Executive on the Web Developer’s Side
Most web developers will assign an Account Executive as a primary point of contact. This person will manage communications on their side and one who will ultimately be responsible for the successful outcome of the project. In most cases, the Account Executive (AE) will be the same person you communicated with during the sales process.
Larger firms may have account execs on board who specialize in your specific industry and who have practical knowledge in related projects. This individual will coordinate and oversee all the services provided by the web developer and will communicate with all team members, including any consultants or third parties who are participating in the project.
An effective Account Executive should be responsive and reliable and have excellent communication, leadership, human capital management skills, as well as have the big picture focus on your project and its goals. You should expect frequent updates from your Account Executive, as well as problem prevention and resolution, quality control, understanding of your needs, attention to detail and ongoing support. If for some reason the individual assigned to you doesn’t have these qualities or doesn’t provide the level of support you need, it is acceptable to ask that another individual take this role. The outcome of your project is literally dependent on the effort and skills of the Account Executive assigned to you.
Project Manager on the Web Developer’s Side
Depending on the project, and on the web developer’s team structure, the Account Executive (your main point of contact) and the project manager may or may not be the same individual.
The role of the Project Manager (PM) on the web developer’s side is to manage all the web developer’s team members and resources, as well as to establish and maintain communication, procedures, tools and methodologies to ensure that your project is managed effectively, and is delivered on time and on budget. Effective PM’s develop detailed project plans and schedules that are continually updated throughout the project and used to manage and guide the day-to-day activities. They then identify detailed project tasks, their duration and dependencies. At this time, they establish checkpoints to assess changes in scope preceding or succeeding milestones. The PM usually assumes the leadership role in communicating and coordinating all project activities with all parties involved, and provides periodic status reports to the Account Executive and your team members. Finally, the PM establishes and conducts quality assurance checkpoints throughout the life of the project.
Just like the Account Executive, the PM’s role is critical to the success of you project so ensure that the individual assigned to your project has the experience and the qualities necessary to manage your project.