Project Management for Web Geeks

Effective Project Management for Web Geeks

Great article about project management. I particularly liked the bit about striking a balance between the science (what you should do) and art (what you need to do) of project management. Meri Williams nails very concisely and eloquently a lot of the things I’ve never manged to express.

Another favourite bit:

If you’ve ever tried to just send a site live and then held out your hand for the check, you’ll have experienced what I term the “undead stakeholder” phenomenon: people who had a stake in the project returning again and again with more requests or improvements or even just support queries.

I’ve used the term ‘Zombie Projects’ to describe the same thing.

Essential reading for anyone who manages web projects in any way shape or form.

8 thoughts on “Project Management for Web Geeks”

  1. mmmm. An odd quote to pick because it sort of implies shit project management. The following quote: “The reality is that your project isn’t finished until the key stakeholders agree that it’s finished, which is another reason why defining the success of the project in the initiation phase is so important.” Backs this up i.e if you ever find yourself in that situation it implies that you haven’t had robust enough documentation in the first place (which is understandable here as she doesn’t mention basic things like a BRD or Functional Spec, though she does mention a PID… odd). You are better off reading about Prince or DSDM. Bugger I sound like a PM…. I’ll shoot myself now.

  2. Thanks for the link and glad you liked it, Iain.

    @nathan, you are completely right — those are totally symptoms of bad (or more often non-existent) project management. In the web space lack of understanding and/or practice of project management is very common — hence the article ;-)

    It was very much intended as a “lite” PM approach and will really not hold up well on full-scale technical projects, but I think it’s a good approach for smaller web projects that primarily suffer from a TOTAL lack of PM.

  3. Aaagggghhhh. Now my ‘bastard management consultant from hell’ attitude kicks in! I get what you say… but… in reality would you say there is actually no such things as PM Lite when it some to covering your arse? If there’s one thing I’ve learn’t (on ‘web projects’ tiny to gigantic) it’s this… cover all bases when it comes to sign off… hence… sort it at the begining.

    Anyway, what kind of a pony agency does ‘smaller web projects that primarily suffer from a TOTAL lack of PM.’??? Is that what’s it’s like at Poke Ian? Is that why you were reading about PM stuff? ;-)

  4. Blimey, Nathan’s in a grumpy mood today ;-)

    I was reading about PM stuff because I’m a rubbish project manager. And it doesn’t follow that Poke is rubbish at project management.

    I sort of agree with you, but ultimately even if you’ve got the most buttoned down documentation in the world if the client wants to be a shit about it and say, “i’m not signing that off”. The documentation and stuff is just a tool, and if they’re being totally unreasonable then you’re in trouble anyway. And shoving documents in their face can actually make it worse sometimes – I’ve seen it happen.

    Sure it’ll help out in court, but we don’t really want that now do we…

  5. A seriously top tip I got taught one was by a Programe Manager at Oyster back in the day… His name was Ash Richardson and he was the most awesome PM I ever worked with (previously he had worked on delivering Jet Fighters for some Government or other I believe, so his techniques were stringent to say the least, anyway…). The tip is this:

    On your mail server set up a project group mail box called . Note: a MAIL BOX, NOT a distribution list. Then, and this is the difficult bit, you make anyone who works on the project in question cc EVERY mail they send regarding the project to that mail box…. like wise you train the client to do it (mostly if they reply all it happens, if no when they reply you have to then forward it for them…). OK yes I know getting people to do it is the hard part. Anyway the long and the short of it is you end up with a fantastic paper trail of everything. That way should a decision be made, as often happens, off spec, it is thoroughly recorded.

    Sounds a lot of work I know, but I’ve seen it get the Agency out of the shit / or made the client back down, no end of times. Ideally though, once people get used to it it’s not a lot of work, it’s just cc’ing an address.

  6. @nathan: You’d be surprised at the number of web shops (and freelancers) who have the devs and designers doing the PM (or NOT as it often the case, since it’s not their skill set or interest). I do a lot of speaking on the topic and the reaction ranges from “that’s really useful” to “do I really have to do ALL THAT?!?”. This implies that many folks aren’t even doing these basic things! It does make me worry about what is normally happening…

    Based on your management consultant comment I imagine you’re working in a more similar environment to what I do in my day job — and there I’d agree the situation (and therefore what is necessary/useful) is very different. You have to remember who the article is aimed at ;-)

  7. Aaagggghhhh. Now my 'bastard management consultant from hell' attitude kicks in! I get what you say… but… in reality would you say there is actually no such things as PM Lite when it some to covering your arse? If there's one thing I've learn't (on 'web projects' tiny to gigantic) it's this… cover all bases when it comes to sign off… hence… sort it at the begining.

    Anyway, what kind of a pony agency does 'smaller web projects that primarily suffer from a TOTAL lack of PM.'??? Is that what's it's like at Poke Ian? Is that why you were reading about PM stuff? ;-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>