When is it Time to Hire a Web Project Manager?

Published on July 17, 2013 by
Every Web Team Needs a Web Project Manager

Web Project Managers are the key to Web team success - iStockPhoto

Web design firms are usually founded by talented designers/programmers who decide to go out on their own as a way of escaping the stress related to unorganized, out of control Web teams.

In the beginning things go well, clients are happy, word of mouth spreads and within the first year the designer/programmer finds themselves with so much business they hire more designers and programmers. Just as it seems the business is a success the warning signs begin to appear: the team is putting in late nights and deadlines are still being missed, projects cost more than the quote and the founder no longer has time to design and program because they are putting out fires all day long.

And the number of new customers calling begins to drop.

Everyone is unhappy. Something has to change or the company will lose customers, money, staff and the word of mouth recommendations that built their reputation.

It is time to hire a Web Project Manager.

Web Project Managers benefit design firms in several ways:

  1. A Web Project Manager introduces a process to the Web development effort. There are several approaches they may take, depending on the firm's staffing resources, types of clients and types of projects. Two of the most common are sequential and Agile, although many design firms are turning to a blending of Scrum with sequential.
  2. A Web Project Manager is focused on the vision of the product that the team works to achieve within the business constraints of time, quality and cost.
  3. A Web Project Manager establishes a relationship with the client, keeping them informed of the project process, getting their inputs into the strategy, progress and results, so the project delivers the business solution the client needs for their business to be successful.
  4. A Web Project Manager handles any issues that arise during the project: unforeseen risks, changes the client or team recommend late into the process which could substantially increase the cost of the project or issues such as the client delaying the project by not delivering promised materials such as content.
  5. A Web Project Manager makes recommendations for the long term success of the Web team by keeping up to date on the latest Web Project Management tools, methods and ideas for improving the process of managing Web projects.

Where do you find a Web Project Manager?

Web project managers are in high demand as the number of organizations with Web sites have increased and the value of assigning someone the full-time responsibility of supporting the client and the team is recognized.

Traditional recruiting firms are one place to look for Web Project Managers, but you have another alternatives too. Talk to your Web team. You may be surprised to discover that one of your designers, developers or Web content writers would love to make the transition to Web Project Manager.

What skills will they need?

Look for someone who is well organized. Do you have a team member that always has ideas on how to improve things? Are they a good writer and a good listener? Do they have the ability to get people to compromise? Are they good with the budget as well as an ardent follower of the latest technology improvements? Do they have the respect of the team? Chances are the best potential Web Project Manager is not your best designer or programmer, but someone who knows a lot about all aspects of designing, building, marketing, analyzing and testing a Web site. That person would make a great Web Project Manager.

They understand the many aspects of building a Web site. Now all they need is some training on how to choose the most appropriate Web process for your team and your clients, how to anticipate and avoid the typical problems that arise during project development, how to manage costs and how to monitor the project so the Web product is delivered on time. There are a number of training classes to choose from that will give them the skills they need to help your team get projects under control.

Conclusion

At some point in the life of a new design firm, no matter how small, the Web team will benefit greatly from adding a Web Project Manager to the team. Perhaps the person who will benefit the most is the firm's founder who can turn their attention to the rest of their business knowing the Web team is in good hands. They may even be able to do a little designing and programming from time to time.

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2 Comments

  1. silver price

    Thus, when you have to give that awful news to your team, first understand that it’s a horrid request that’s likely to piss them off. Then appreciate that being pissed off is actually a pretty strong emotional reaction that means they actually care about what they do, a lot.

    • Tonya Price

      Interesting perspective. I've never encountered a team that wasn't enthusiastic about the idea of a working with a Project Manager and the teams that have gone from no project manager to a process of working with a project manager, have universally been grateful for the benefits that the change brought.

      If the team is used to an Agile environment then of course the role of the Project Manager will be much different than that of a project manager for a team using a sequential, or waterfall plus Agile blended approach. In the case of Agile teams, the project manager does not "manage" the project but instead, usually plays more the role of a coach/facilitator.

      Any Web Director who would put in a Web Project Manager without the support of the Web team is a fool. The entire purpose of the Web Project Manager is to get the resources the team needs and do whatever possible to ensure the success of the team. If the Web Project Manager is not performing this role or not good at this role, the fault is not in the position, but with the individual who may need training to fulfill the role well.

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