The Role of a Project Manager in a Web Design Agency
Now… This post may be slightly controversial! It really depends on who you ask. I know some developers who despise organisation, view project management as meetings about meetings about meetings, and generally want to be left alone to build. I also know developers who couldn’t work without a certain degree of organisation.
I’ll preface this by saying I absolutely do not believe in meetings about meetings. Agile Project Management is a real bone of contention in the tech world.
In the fast-paced world of digital agencies, where brands are established, websites are built and campaigns are launched, it is the Project Manager’s job to steer the project, whatever it may be, to completion. I consider my role as a Project Manager to simply be a bit of protection for our development team from the many questions that get asked by clients during a project lifecycle. That and an organised diary or calendar. In this blog post, we will discuss the impact a Project Manager has in an award-winning digital agency like Wibble while touching on the responsibilities and skills required to succeed as a Project Manager.
Project Planning and Organisation
This is where my organised diary and calendar play a huge part. My role here at Wibble entails taking complex project requirements and breaking them down into manageable steps, ensuring everyone on the project team knows what’s expected of them and when. It’s my job to keep on top of the project plan, timelines, milestones and tasks.
As well as an organised diary and calendar, there are a couple of project management softwares I use for team collaboration. They’re a nice visual aid and I can keep all live projects in one place. My two personal favourites are Asana and StreamTime.
Efficient allocation of resources is one of my key tasks. I will assemble teams on a project-by-project basis, assign roles to our creative web design team and experienced web development team, and ensure that everyone has the tools and information they need to succeed. They’re the glue that keeps everyone working in harmony. When you can have as many as six brand new website builds waiting to drop in at one time, as well as support tasks and updates being actioned
Where could it all go wrong? Before I got into the world of Project Management, I was a retail manager. A friend told me that Project Management is essentially like doing a risk assessment of a stock delivery and then mitigating that risk. Identifying and mitigating risks is at the forefront of a Project Manager’s mind. They are always prepared for the unexpected and have plans in place to keep the project on track.
Could the client ghost us for a while? Is the content actually ready? Do I need to factor in team holidays, sickness etc? These are just some of the questions I ask myself when going through the project lifecycle and working out timings.
As I previously mentioned, I like to be involved in the process right from the first meeting with the client. The reason is to ensure that deliverables meet the client’s standards and Wibble’s benchmarks. Aside from keeping a keen eye on the progress of the project, a Project Manager will carry out some intense UAT before a launch.
Managing project budgets is another critical responsibility. Project Managers track expenses, make sure resources are used efficiently and help maximise the agency’s profitability. Wibble has actually made this infinitely easier for me. Too often I’ve worked with development teams who I’ll ask for a timeline and get a response of “How long is a piece of string?”. As you can imagine, that’s not helpful when it comes to working out budgets!
Communication is Key
This is easily the most crucial part of my role. As Project Managers, we manage expectations, keep everyone informed and are the first line of defence when issues arise. If any problems should arise in relation to any of my previous points, the client must be made aware straight away.
The scope of a project can often change throughout the lifecycle. It can be due to something simple like the client forgetting a page or functionality they require on the site. In this scenario, it’s important that both parties are aware of the deliverables from the start and the additional scope could hold the project up or require further budget. As long as that’s clearly communicated, everything tends to be fine!
Ultimately, the success of a digital agency project is measured by client satisfaction. Sure, there may be some technical measurements of success like increases in conversions, but at Wibble we are dedicated to meeting and exceeding client expectations, maintaining strong client relationships and ensuring we deliver on our promises. Paudie is forever saying “We don’t take on projects that we aren’t 100% confident we can deliver on!”, which is refreshing to hear.
The Project Manager is a bit of a jack of all trades and master of one, which if you haven’t guessed by now, is communication. We are the client-facing team members, answering all the questions and taking all the calls so the real geniuses can work in peace. Now and again we’re required to get our hands a little dirty, jumping in to help the design and development teams as and when required. Ultimately though, our job is to convey an idea from a client to the design team and orchestrate the entire process through development until the launch of a website that we can all take pride in.
While being a Project Manager can be a struggle at times, the team here at Wibble do all we can to make each other’s lives easier, and they certainly make mine easier!