Diary of a Redesign: Keep Your Website Redesign on Track with Risk Mitigation Strategies
6 best practices to consider when guiding a project towards success
As a website design project manager, you are tasked with many roles: moderator, scheduler, traffic controller, leader, disciplinarian, manager, problem-solver, and so on. In every situation, the objective is the same: avoid risk and failure, and make sure the project moves smoothly and is completed on-time and on-budget, while simultaneously ensuring that everyone involved is pleased.
A lofty task? I think not! Sure, there are pitfalls, like scope-creep or communication challenges, that can jeopardize projects, but with the right methods and techniques in place they can easily be overcome.
Here are just a few high-level best practices that have helped me get the job done time and time again:
- Build a Strong Team - establishing experienced, knowledgeable individuals who work well together and independently is a vital factor in the success of a project. You are only as good as your weakest link. Build a team that is comfortable with one another. If you establish trust within your team you can be more confident in the deadlines you set and the accuracy of the deliverables. This will not only help the schedule stay on track, but will make the project a more enjoyable, enlightening, and rewarding experience for you and your client.
- Create a Support System - It’s ok to not know all of the answers. Creating a support system of like-minded individuals will give you an outlet when you hit those bumps in the road. This could be other project managers in your company, a forum or professional group (like the Project Management Institute), or simply a group of trusted and knowledgeable friends. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and continue learning.
- Utilize Communication Tools - communication is king when it comes to being successful. However, the wrong kind of communication can be disruptive. It is important to establish and utilize communication tools for you and the client. Determine your main means of messaging; whether it be email or a cloud-based platform, like Basecamp. I suggest a cloud-based platform because it becomes an excellent record of the project decisions and deliverables. Also, there can be a lot of opinions and voices involved in projects, so make sure you establish a main point of contact that can facilitate collected, actionable feedback. This will help to ensure everyone feels they are contributing without it bogging down the schedule. Lastly, establishing a weekly status call & status document between you and the main contact will ensure the project remains transparent and everyone is on the same page.
- Establish Expectations Early & Often - you and the client read and agreed to a statement of work, so you know what you have signed up for. There’s no harm in being open about it. If two rounds were slotted for a deliverable, than that is what you are planning for. If another one is needed, it can always be discussed and added in. Keeping your team and the client abreast of what was agreed upon will ensure they do not stray away from it. But make sure you keep that door open for adjustments and up-selling. I suggest continuing to address those expectations in the weekly status meetings.
- Be Proactive - trust your instincts. If you are starting to sense red flags on the horizon with the client or your internal team address them head-on. Connect with your account services team and let them know an issue might be brewing so it can be handled before it becomes a detriment to the project. Better safe than sorry!
- Keep Tabs on Billing & Expenses - it’s very easy to get lost in the project deliverables and forget about actually making money on your work and paying your vendors for their work. Set up monthly billing reminders to make sure you don’t miss your billing dates and establish a system for making sure your vendor invoices don’t get lost in the shuffle.
My last bit of advice is to take these methodologies and figure out the best way they will work for you. There is no one way to handle a website design project successfully. Tailor these recommendations to a working style that suits you, your team and your client. Each project will have its own nuances and uniqueness, so be prepared to make adjustments and keep a level head on your shoulders. And always have fun!
This post is the part of our weekly Diary of a Redesign series, which covers every stage of the website redesign process, from planning, to design, to implementation, to launch. New posts published every Wednesday.
A New Jersey native, Courtney Koellner began her professional career as an Account Executive for a full-service marketing agency, where she was responsible for client-facing communication, project & office management, and marketing strategy. After more than 5 years of developing and refining her skills and interests, Courtney decided to focus her career in production and project management. Making the move to Boston, MA, she joined iFactory, an innovative interactive web solutions provider for higher education, publishing, not-for-profit, and healthcare industries. As a Producer at iFactory, she utilizes her organizational skills, enthusiasm, and professional experience to manage digital projects for various clients, from website assessments to full website redesigns.