Tips for Better Website Development Project Management

As Papercut’s Account Manager, I know that overseeing a website development project isn’t an easy task. There are a lot of moving parts, deadlines need to be met, and schedules may have to be adjusted. Keeping things on track requires attention to detail and a process that works. To help make things easier for my fellow account managers out there, here are a few tips on website development project management (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) that I’ve picked up from personal experience:

Be organized. When you’re working on a website development project, or any other project for that matter, it’s important to be organized right from the start so everything has a place down the road. This will save both you and your clients a lot of time and frustration, and I think it’s the most important aspect of my job. If you’re organized, it will be easier for your team to know where everything is and to get their jobs done. It will also be easier for you to communicate with your clients if you know where everything is in the process. Which brings me to my next tip…

Communicate. This really is a two-way street. You need to communicate with your clients about their responsibilities for the project (meeting approval deadlines, etc.), and you need them to communicate with you about any roadblocks, concerns, or scheduling issues that might delay the project or cause a change in the timeline. Don’t be afraid to get on the phone or to request meetings if you need to. Likewise, you need to communicate with your team on a regular basis. Share client feedback, let them know what their deadlines are, and help make sure tasks are completed on time.

Manage your time and your schedule. This is a biggie. Remember that not every project is the same. A redesign of a large site could go quickly, and a redesign of a small site could take months; it all depends on the client. At Papercut, we try to build our production schedules around the client’s needs and what we think is feasible from a development standpoint. I take pride in working with our team to be as flexible as possible and deliver a quality product. It’s also important to consider your team’s needs as much as your client’s. You should do your best to balance both and ensure that in the end, the client receives a product that is exactly what they asked for, if not more.

Be patient and willing to learn. The web can be overwhelming. It’s a different language, and you’ll probably need to educate your clients to help them get through the process. This might mean answering phone calls about how to log in to the backend of their website, training them to use their content management system, or helping them make informed decisions about the layout of certain site elements. At the same time, if you don’t have a background in web development, you should try to learn as much as you can from your teammates so you can speak intelligently about the process and be as helpful as possible to your clients. Don’t hesitate to ask questions.

More than anything else, effective project management is about being flexible. You can set deadlines and responsibilities, but you should understand that they can change as the project evolves. If they do, it’s your responsibility as a project manager to adjust and keep things moving forward. Don’t get bogged down or let your project get derailed if things don’t go exactly the way you planned them. Being prepared for the unexpected is a lifesaver.