Successful project management comes down to the efficiency of your development cycle. Establishing protocols, implementing collaborative communication tools, and proactively discovering new production resources will help drive a project forward…but will they help you manage everything efficiently?
As with any collaborative work environment, communication and peer to peer interactions play a huge roll in driving a project from start to finish…but there are several tactics i’ve identified, through trial and error, which can help translate your project management objectives into actionable steps.
Develop a realistic timeline for the implementation of your project
Web development projects are malleable by nature. As much as I strive to help clients set realistic benchmarks and timelines – the little things always seem to get in the way. A bug here, missing content there, epic inter-departmental war on the client side between marketing and IT – it’s always something. The trick is to plan ahead for these sorts of production obstacles…and that comes down to setting contingents in the initial stages of the project.
Phase development can help to substantially reduce the amount of time spent waiting on a response from a client or developer. Break everything down into stages – use diagrams if you have to – just make sure whoever’s involved in the project understands who does what, when, and who’s accountable for deliverables. Collaborative communication tools like basecamp (hopefully google wave in the near future) and TeamViewer make this much easier than email based solutions.
Making sure everyone involved in production provides feedback at the beginning of a project – or their phase of the project – with regards to their capabilities, resources, and deadlines helps everyone plan accordingly.
Establish all communication channels between management and development
Whatever the case may be…project managers must collaborate with their resources effectively. This often comes down to the strength, accessibility, and practicality of communication channels. Some people work best when receiving direction verbally…others in written form. Based on my experience…WRITE everything down and keep directions, solutions, and protocols in a place which is universally accessible. Creating a central reference point for a project helps everyone involved answer questions independently…and places more emphasis on the development of the project rather than the planning.
Creating a centralized reference point for project collaboration also streamlines the development update process. When everyone is centralizing their tasks, accomplishments, hurdles, or completed assignments – it’s easy to consolidate daily production updates and send them off to the respective client. In some cases, its even a solid idea to get your clients involved…so they can monitor the production directly. The downside to allowing direct client interaction from the development side is the resulting micromanagement. Everyone likes to throw their opinions on production procedures into the mix when they have the opportunity….which isn’t a bad thing…unless the opinions are coming from someone who has no grasp of how to manage multiple communication exchanges during intricate development cycles.