Project management in an online environment can get complex quickly as there can be a lot of moving parts. Managing websites involved many different skill sets from web designers, web masters, writers, software developers, photographers, video producers, call centers, hosting companies; domain service companies, PPC consultants, SEO consultants, product fulfillment companies and I can go on for a few pages. And oh by the way I left out the client, who is the most important piece to the whole puzzle.
On a footnote, we have worked with people all over the world, India, China, Romania and Western Europe, managing the different time zones and cultures is also something we have experience in and we also enjoy learning from others who are not from North America.
The key to great project management is organization but even more importantly it is important that you have the right people and skills handling the work. As a website consultant what I look for is people who take initiative. They take initiative and aren’t afraid to make mistakes and when they do, the mistakes are corrected quickly and not repeated. Last time I checked we weren’t managing any life support systems or rocket launches so we have to make some room for error. It is important to let people do their job and take ownership of it. I find in the long run we get a much better result when we do that.
There are also several tools that are available for project management. I have tried many and found most of them to be too complex for my needs. What I do use for project management is Microsoft Outlook and Basecamp. Basecamp is an online multi user solution while I use Outlook for personal projects. Staying on top of tasks and sending reminders to staff or self is the most critical component in terms of keeping the goals of the projects on track.
Project management is a two way street and we require our clients to be responsive to our requests. Sometimes we can get into situations where our clients have to wait for “approval” on artwork or copy or some other deliverable. In order to avoid some of these bottle necks we try to establish some rules of engagement in the beginning so that the best interests of the “project” are a success without having business process get in the way.
Reporting tools and analytics are also a key component in managing projects. The data does not lie!