Effective project management for websites is the difference between gliding through the waves on a cruiser yacht and flapping your arms about in the water, wondering how much you have to swallow before your feet touch the bottom.
Maintaining multiple websites is far from easy if you don’t have the right tools and strategies in place, allowing your agency to maintain a high level of consistency – even when unexpected issues pop up.
And it’s not just the technology, coding, plugins, updates, and security that regularly hurls challenges at you. Often it can be the clients themselves presenting challenges to your workflow, with requests for seemingly endless lists of changes.
In this article, we will be analyzing the best website project management tools and approaches to help ensure your web agency is able to sail smoothly and confidently rather than flapping about in the waves like a headless chicken that’s misplaced its waterwings.
Understanding Website Project Management
Website project management is the use of skills, knowledge, and tools to effectively manage website development projects.
It’s about creating due processes and workflows that maximize productivity and ensure that deliverables are submitted on time.
Web agencies often juggle various types of projects, including ground-up site builds, migrations, landing page designs, or even small edits.
Making sure that you have a plan in place is critically important. In this day and age, companies often use a combination of project management frameworks to ensure the smooth delivery of each project.
The Most Popular Website Project Management Frameworks
A framework, or project management methodology, is simply a defined approach to managing workflows. It’s a set of rules and guidelines that companies can follow to streamline operations.
Here are the three most popular website project management frameworks in use today.
The Agile Manifesto was written back in 2000, and since its inception has only grown in popularity. Today, it’s used by digital agencies and software companies of all sizes simply because it’s so effective.
The Agile Manifesto outlines four core values and twelve key principles that developers should follow. The four core values are as follows:
1. Customer collaboration over contract negotiations;
2. Individuals and interactions over tools and processes
3. Prioritize responding to change over following plans
4. Focus on working software instead of detailed documentation
The Agile methodology prioritizes deliverables over detailed documentation and requires developers to take a customer-first approach. And it works really well, as teams can take feedback from clients and quickly make changes instead of leaving everything until the very end.
The Scrum framework breaks development cycles into sprints. Each “sprint” is of a specific length – such as two weeks. A leader, often known as a Scrum Master, breaks tasks down and assigns them to different teams.
They are responsible for delivering something during each sprint. This is a more collaborative approach since developers are required to discuss exactly what they are going to work on each day, what they did before, and if there are any blockers.
Scrum works well for distributed teams as it offers a sense of autonomy while also maintaining smooth communications.
Kanban boards are great for managing website projects. Kanban, for those who don’t know, is the Japanese term for a billboard.
Essentially, this framework divides tasks into separate columns, such as:
- In progress
You can put a bunch of tasks under each, and using a project management tool that supports kanban boards, move them around as they’re updated.
Atarim is a fantastic choice for this, as you can use it to manage your website projects more efficiently.
It lets you create kanban boards and assign tasks through a centralized dashboard, streamlining the project management process in a highly visual way.
This gives you a bird’s eye view of how work is progressing, who’s working on what, and whether something has been stuck in production for a while.
You can try Atarim free today and instantly discover how easy it is to collaborate in a more visual way on any website.
Website Project Management Tips to Streamline Operations
There’s no defined formula for making sure that everything runs smoothly. It’s all about playing to the strengths of your team. Here are some important website project management tips that web agencies find work very well for easing the pressure whilst ensuring deliverables are met on time.
Take a Collaborative Approach to Project Planning
Surprisingly, it’s too often the case that web agencies ignore the main stakeholders when planning projects. During the planning stage, you need to first outline what the client wants from the site.
This will then become the fulcrum on which the entire project is balanced. If you get this wrong, there’s a risk of operations falling into disarray and managers having some terse meetings with clients.
The best way to avoid this is by involving your key stakeholders – the clients – in the project planning. A small survey or questionnaire can do wonders during the early stages and will help you answer critical questions, such as:
- Preferred deadlines
- The client’s budget
- What’s the client trying to accomplish?
- Do they have specific examples?
- Aligning expectations
Provide Realistic Delivery Estimates
Underpromise. Overdeliver. It’s effective, but it carries a risk. If the client finds another agency that does the same job quicker, they’ll probably take their business elsewhere.
That’s why the best approach is to be as transparent as possible and define your delivery estimates at the start. Before you begin the project, you should know how many resources will be allocated, any tools required, and any content or deliverables that you’ll need from the client.
Factor all of this into your project estimate. You will want to consider any past projects that you’ve completed which are similar to this one. And it always pays to add a fiscal buffer in case of budget overruns instead of having to approach the client again and again to explain the increase in initial expenses.
Define the Scope of the Project
One of the most important documents that’s going to dictate the flow of work at every stage is the project charter.
This is where you’ll include the scope of the project, which details the parameters in which you’ll be working. This includes the timelines, the deliverables, the milestones, and the financial budget available.
There’s always a risk that clients will ask for other tasks now and then. Some are doable, but others might fall way outside the scope of the project.
It doesn’t take long for scope creep to set in. Before you know it, you or other team members might end up spending time on tasks that don’t fall within the scope of the project – and worse –, tasks you probably won’t get paid for.
Use a Robust Project Management Tool
There are a whole bunch of different project management tools, but they are often designed to be “one-size-fits-all” solutions.
For website project management, you need a tool that was specifically designed for this purpose. That’s where Atarim comes in.
Atarim is a visual feedback tool that’s designed to help web developers and agencies collaborate more efficiently with clients.
It allows clients to leave feedback on specific pages and automatically turns their comments into tasks, which drop down on the kanban board and can be picked up by any available team member.
It also offers a slew of efficient management features, such as time tracking, auto-generating reports, a dedicated Support Inbox that collates all tasks and emails in one centralized location, and even lets developers push and minify images directly.
It’s difficult to overstate the importance of using a robust project management tool that was designed specifically for website developers.
Instead of taking a more generic solution and trying to mold it around your workflow, Atarim makes it easy for teams to manage operations and client communications through a single dashboard.
Project Management is Not an Exact Science
The rules of the game are always changing, and as your team grows, you’ll face a whole set of new challenges. While project managers often have their hands full, the upside is that they’re never bored at work.
There’s always something interesting to do or a challenge to overcome. Using a tool like Atarim is a great way to streamline operations, reduce back-and-forth communication while also helping teams deliver projects faster.
If you want to learn more, you should read On Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and Complexity in Project Management by Pich, Loch, and de Meyer.