Project management is the key to a successful web design project.
Whether it’s a new website design, adding on new website developments or mobile app development – Great project management is what keeps your project on track, meets deadlines and keeps you updated with progress every step of the way.
In a rush? Watch the 6 minute video above that explains everything you need to know about Project Management.
If you have worked with ALT Agency before then you will of spoken with our project manager Rehan who is often described as “detail orientated” “thorough” and “the best PM we have ever worked with” – It is these words that show just how important project management and a great project manager to execute upon the project plan is.
In this article we are going to cover all areas of project management right from the elements of great project management, to bad project management, examples of typical project milestones and outline the benefits of why great project management is vital to saving you time and money.
Elements of great project management
Great project management doesn’t start when you agree to go ahead with a project, it begins at the first point of contact you have with your chosen web design agency.
If you have no experience with working with a web design company, then your questions will likely fall into 2 parts:
- Is what I want possible: can I have this functionality and do this and that?
- How long will this take, what do I need to provide you and by when?
The first question “Is what I want possible” is usually easily managed by any member of the team from a web design agency, whether that be the sales rep, project manager or a member of senior management.
Talking about your project from a top level is usually done over the phone to get a feel for the type of requirements that you are looking for.
But once your project is understood from a top level and costs are all on the table then it is the next stage at a face to face meeting where your project manager will really come into the picture.
Include your Project Manager from Day 1
It is important that your project manager is involved from the first meetings and a smart project manager knows this. This is firstly to assess your chemistry with the project manager and secondly if other people are involved at the early stage such as sales reps or senior management then it can be very awkward and disheartening to have the big guns rolled out to get your business and then leave you feel deflated when they step back once the contract is signed and hand you over to someone you have never met before.
Whilst part of that is true, it can feel really disheartening and all about money, but the thing to remember is it is actually the project manager who is the real big gun within any project.
Because it is the project manager who will understand your project, your requirements and have the key to unlock all of that for you in one single incredible project brief.
It can feel great having an agencies top brass come and visit you and nod their head about what can and can’t be done and sell you the deal and get the contract signed.
But they aren’t technical people and they often don’t have the skill set to manage and execute upon your project plan.
That’s why it is important that your project manager should be there from day 1.
- To understand your requirements and the possibilities of getting it done
- To walk you through solutions and other alternative ways of doing things that you may not be aware of
- To see the fuller picture
- To be a consistent face from day 1 who you can count on, has your best interests at heart and knows you, your requirements and your project timeframe inside out.
Break your project into 3 key phases
In the early stages a good project manager will be spending a lot of time with yourself or whoever is in charge on your project.
Typically, the conversations will at first be around a mix of website design and website development before being narrowed down to just web design and just website development.
Your project will be broken down into 3 key phases:
The pre-project phase is what really sets your project on track and unfortunately is often the most neglected stage of a project.
This stage is more than where a time frame is set – It’s where a deadline is set and it’s also where that deadline is proven that it will be met.
During pre-project, your project manager will be expanding on your initial project brief and building it into what’s called an SRS (Software Requirement Specifics) – This is an exact road map of all your requirements and can be broken down into a Design SRS and a Development (technical) SRS.
The design SRS includes all the fine detail on your design requirements. Colours, Assets, Fonts, Pages required are all included in a design SRS.
Documenting your web project for clarity
A design SRS is much more than that, it will be broken down page by page and each element, each call to action, each button colour is all mapped out so that anyone with design experience could pick it up and know exactly what elements are required on your designs.
A technical SRS is where all the individual page functionality is documented. Depending on your project size it’s not unusual for an SRS to exceed 80-100 pages in total.
A technical SRS will again allow any web developer to pick it up, read it and follow it and develop your website.
The Design and technical SRS is the holy grail and foundation to your project.
A great project manager will also include time frames in your SRS, so you know what to expect and when. An SRS can be broken down into sections an this then used to build a weekly plan, so you know what to expect and when.
Without an SRS your project could go seriously off track.
The great benefit to an SRS is that it irons potential future issues out before your project has even started.
So many web design companies sell a great dream, yet when it comes to it, they end up increasing their price mid-project, missing timeframes and causing their client lots of other issues, purely because they did not pre-plan their project correctly.
Great project management = Excellent finished product
Our experience has shown that by spending more and more time on the pre-project management section of the project that the output is of a far higher quality, better than the client imagined, on time and within budget – This is all due to proper pre-project planning.
The purpose of pre-project management is so that your project manager leaves you in no doubt what so ever about you will be receiving at the project competition stage.
If your project has been pre-planned properly then your project manager will at the end of the week or on certain dates, provide you with regular updates as to what’s happening with your project.
During the early weeks your project manager will be updating you on your designs – as designs typically tend to be completed and signed off before the web development stage starts.
Your designs are the key to your whole project and it’s not worth moving forward to the development stage until your designs are signed off.
At ALT Agency we use invisionapp during the design stage to present to you your designs – This software allows us to present the designs in an easy to manage fashion so that you can click through as though a real website and click to leave your feedback.
Once your designs are all signed off, they are added to the technical SRS which is then signed off by yourself and the development stage starts.
Typically, a development process will start with the designs being converted to HTML – This is so that the elements of your designs eg images, text and links all become real, interactive, clickable and readable by Google.
As this goes on your Project Manager will be available for updates at your request and of course report back to you with updates to ensure your project is on track.
This article is part of our 4-part series into project management and getting your website right from day 1. The purpose of this mini-series is to provide you with the ideal process you would go through to get your web project on track from the outset and not cost you money or lose you time mid-project.
Part 2 of this series will be released shortly and will focus on examples of bad project management – Giving you the ability to spot the warning signs before your project goes wrong.
ALT Agency are a Birmingham based web design agency who have been offering website design services for over 15 years. Our core service is web design birmingham which over the last 15 years has allowed us to create and fine tune our project management process.