The Cheeky Monkey Media Blog
A few words from the apes, monkeys, and various primates that make up the Cheeky Monkey Super Squad.
The biggest factors attributed to working with an agency are time, budget, communication – and ultimately – a successful project! Most clients understand the roles and responsibilities of developers, designers, and marketers. Yet when it comes to Project Management, we regularly hear “why do I need this?” and “what exactly does a project manager do?”
Project management typically runs around 20% of a project budget. This of course depends on the scope (or size) of the project. Many clients wonder if this expense is justified, which couldn’t be farther from the truth, as the role of a Project Manager is vital to every project’s success.
Did you know that when a project fails, 39% is directly attributable to a lack of direction, strategy, and accountability? Professional, reliable Project Management can absolutely change the outcome of a project, as 39% of businesses say the number one reason their online venture failed was miscommunication and/or NO communication at all.
What is a Project Manager?
To fully understand the importance of a project manager, we will need to first define the role.
The job is much more than schedules and excel sheets. Project managers are defined by the Project Management Institute as ‘change agents: they make project goals their own and use their skills and expertise to inspire a sense of shared purpose within the project team’.
What this means is that a project manager acts on the client’s behalf, keeping their interests and goals at the forefront of the project. They are a client and developer’s first point of contact for any issues or discrepancies, while also keeping all team members motivated to stay on time and on budget.
As stated above, one of the most common pain points for clients is communication, or lack thereof. Utilizing an expert PM on your project, will ensure a collaborative effort from start to finish (although we believe that a web project doesn’t truly end, as it must constantly evolve to stay top of mind and relevant). With regular updates, frequent reporting and open-ended question & answer periods, a dedicated project manager will ensure their clients are aware of each stage of the project and informed at all times.
At Cheeky Monkey Media, our project managers believe in complete transparency with all of our clients. They are never left wondering where their project hours and budget is going, as they are a part of our team, and we are a part of theirs. With clear, concise communication between everyone involved, we help our clients reach their online goals successfully & efficiently.
2 Building Strategy & Goal Alignment
We all know projects can be chaotic and challenging in the best of situations, especially if there is no project manager to wrangle in the team members and keep the project on task.
That is because project management is so much more than scheduling tasks and pushing paper (more like pressing buttons on a keyboard actually!). A project manager is the “foreman” to each and every member on the project team.
Can you imagine building a house without a foreman keeping their workers on schedule, providing them with all the proper instructions and priorities, while taking the responsibility for the quality, on time, and on budget build? I would think not.
As the “foreman” of your online (ad)venture, the project manager is methodically working behind the scenes to allocate the appropriate resources to meet realistic deadlines and budgets. As each client has different goals and objectives for a web project, the PM is responsible for learning and absorbing as much as they can about each unique project situation. Next, they implement a high-level strategy that guides the development (literally) of a successful end goal for the project and all its stakeholders.
From beginning to end, and notably post-launch, a project manager strives to manage the client’s expectations by keeping everyone involved up to date and on the same path to success.
Working alongside a development lead, a project manager oversees all aspects of scheduled tasks, and most importantly – the QA (quality assurance) of each completed task iteration. The project manager reviews each stage of completed work BEFORE any client review, to determine that the functionality/requirements are meeting or exceeding the task purpose.
Since an essential part of any project is overall quality, project managers continuously work to identify and flag any issues that could prevent the project from moving forward smoothly. This proactive approach keeps surprises and/or project blockers at a minimum, while giving the PM time to schedule additional resources (if necessary). It also allows them to communicate in a timely & effective manner with clients, in case of task delays or unanticipated changes in scope.
Once the developers/designers/marketers have completed their tasks, all work is then moved to review for the project management team. The tasks are only moved to client approval AFTER the PM team has greenlit that each task is performing its desired function or goal. Without this very important project management process, projects could derail quickly and end up costing you down the road. In both valuable time and money.
Whenever a project is slated to begin, we know first hand the excitement our clients feel to finally get their project going, and this can lead to the dreaded “I have to have it now” syndrome.
Thankfully, this is where project management can really shine and show its value. PM’s work with you to create realistic timelines and well thought out strategies for achieving them. This alleviates client stress from day one, and most assuredly aids in starting the project out on the right foot.
With all project timelines, there are of course expected due dates, both from the client and the development/agency side. Project managers work closely with all parties to ensure those deadlines are being met. Moreover, they communicate any and all hiccups, scope changes, tweaks or whatever may arise during a work sprint, which keeps the client up to date & aware of where their project is AT ALL TIMES. In a nutshell -because of great project management- milestones are more easily met by the development team and the client has current information to relay to their stakeholders which makes everyone involved, HAPPY!
When it comes to any and all projects, it is always all about the budget. Who wouldn’t love to have Amazon or Facebook like functionality, marketing and success rates? But since the average bear (or business) does not have a billion dollars to achieve (and more pertinently maintain) this, businesses need to focus on properly & effectively managing the budget they do have. This is where having a project manager is key, as client wish lists grow as projects progress. This is a natural response to successful, incremental improvements during a project, but this is where having a PM keep you on track with your budget is priceless. Literally.
Project managers work through the approved tasks and timelines – consistently communicating progress or failure – which allows them to stick to the agreed upon budget as closely as possible. They manage the scope of the project, ensuring that the client knows that the authorized work is moving forward, and what potentially could be additional cost(s). This management of scope gives the client the information they need to stay on top of costs in a proactive manner.
Project managers work diligently to allocate funds and resources appropriately. Whether a small or large scale project, scope changes are typically inevitable, which can lead to budget derailment. To avoid this, a PM will break down the budget and align the funds with project milestones. This gives them greater control over the budget as each stage progresses, and also allows them to keep the client in the budget loop before any major monetary issues arise.
In our opinion, a project manager is absolutely necessary for any and all projects to reach success in the most efficient & effective way. We consider them to be a natural extension of the client, meaning they share the same goals and ultimately, the same successes or failures with the client.
By taking advantage of the project management process, you can be assured that your project expectations, timeline, budget and most importantly, goals, will be well met.
As Joy Gumz says: “Operations keeps the lights on, strategy provides a light at the end of the tunnel, but project management is the train engine that moves the organization forward.”