A university’s web initiative is the lifeblood of its growth and success. The ability to translate a website into an effective, fruit-bearing communication and messaging tool is a necessity in higher education. Prospective students look for a web experience that connects their life journeys and aspirations to a particular institution. Schools use this tool to make their pitch to potential students from all over the globe.
Web project managers lead the charge on this quest to deliver the best web experience. From keeping momentum going and avoiding timeline creep to encouraging team members to keep their eyes on the end goal, the responsibility is substantial. Higher education websites have crucial dynamics that must be taken into consideration throughout the project.
“The P in PM is as much about ‘people management’ as it is about ‘project management’.” – Cornelius Fichtner
Enrollment season is almost upon us. Feel the pressure yet? Here are four project management must-haves to make your web project successful:
As a project manager, your job is to provide real-time visibility to all parties. When a project kicks off, your most important responsibility is to effectively communicate.
Higher education websites are loaded with meticulous details that speak to a wide array of users. Our most important tool in making sure these details don’t slip through the cracks or get lost in translation is communication.
An effective PM uses communication not only to keep each party in the loop with project status, but also to hold each party accountable for project responsibility and deliverables. We all have a role in this project. A PM’s job is to use open dialogue to make sure those jobs are being carried out efficiently.
A great project manager brings out the best in each team member by trusting them to make key decisions. Invest in each person’s ability to contribute something to the web project that you couldn’t.
Your job as a PM is to constantly illuminate the end goal and clear a path for your team of experts to perform. Lack of empowerment will eventually manifest itself. If the web project succeeds, it will likely be attributed to continuity that a project manager endorses.
People want the truth. Pretty simple. When things are tough, say them anyway. You have no other choice.
When scope, time or cost begin to creep, you must ring the alarm immediately. This will involve a series of conversations with your stakeholders and project team. It’s your job as a project manager to oversee the plan to get things back on track—but you must not do this silently.
Your stakeholders understand that dynamics often shift during a project. It happens to the best of us. The only way to navigate that rough patch successfully is being crystal clear about what has shifted, why it shifted and what you plan to do about it. It may be a difficult conversation to have, but it is your obligation.
Your project members also deserve transparency. Through the good and the bad, your team needs to be in the loop about the project. They should hear about the tangibles and intangibles that create the project’s current temperature. Responsible team members take that information and use it to leverage project success.
When a project has concluded, bring your team together for a retrospective conversation. In this informal discussion, the team can articulate what they learned during the project. Pros and cons should be offered and documented. There is always something that was done right and wrong that will teach you an important lesson moving into the next web project.
Project highlights and missteps are equally valuable here. This also gives our project approach a level of accountability. Each web project is an opportunity to build on product and process definition. The more we discuss what we’ve learned, the better we can understand what we offer and how we can best offer it.