Managing Online Projects – Part 1

Managing online web projects is no easy task. Having to oversee and manage a wide range of tasks and differing working styles can prove difficult and an online project manager must have the ability to understand, adapt and administer all these different elements.

Considering that one “simple” web based project could involve branding, website design, usability testing, system development, project testing, online marketing and ongoing support – it is clear to see that even the smallest of projects requires a diverse and clear understanding and varying skill sets.

When working on a number of different project elements as mentioned above, a project manager must also have the communication and interpersonal skills to be able to work with colleagues with alternative working ethics and styles.

Online Project Management

Project managing online projects covers a wide range of subject areas

You may say this is the case for a project manager in any industry, and you wouldn’t be wrong. However within the web industry, the difference in working styles between a project manager, a web developer and branding/design expert could not be further apart.

Good project managers will be concise, organised and will know what is required each day. Developers are similar in their organisational logic, however may do things in no particular order to suit the project or milestones. This is not because they are being difficult, but is simply because it is how code must be written in order for it to be written correctly. And then you have designers who can seem slow to start, but will have flashes of inspiration without warning which can effect the direction of a project within an instant.

All this can be very difficult to manage on small web projects let alone large scale online systems which is the direction most companies are heading towards.

As web projects become larger and more technical, technologies and techniques are having to become more advanced to suit client requirements. With the continuing evolution of such technologies as Canvas, WebGL/OpenGL and  HTML5 Manifests, a project managers role becomes even more challenging as their knowledge of these technologies must stay up to date in order to make more informed decisions for their clients.

A working knowledge of all aspects of a web project is an absolute essential when it comes to a web based project. A project manager does not need to be able to design a logo or develop a website – but they must have the background understanding to bring everything together in an effective and beneficial way.

Using Online Project Management Tools

One of the most difficult tasks required of a project manager is the organising, management and documenting of a project from start to finish. Online project management tools such as Basecamp, EasyProjects and LiquidPlanner, help project managers to keep track of team to do lists, create and assign project milestones to key members of the project team and create internal messages which can all be stored for auditing purposes at any stage of the project.

Basecamp Screenshot

Basecamp is a great example of easy to use project management software

Using these tools allows all project communication to go through one central online facility which can not only be accessed by any authorised stakeholder anywhere in the world, but also ensures both the client and the whole development team remains up to date at all times with any project developments.

This is a very valuable asset when developing large online systems that can change focus at any given time. As part of our quality management policy at Strawberrysoup we take project management very seriously. We make good use of the web-based project management tool Basecamp especially when internal and client project teams are located around the UK or abroad.

Managing Online Projects Part 2 – Sticking to a Process, will be published next week!