The art of web project management – Definition & methodologies
The success of a web project depends less on the initial idea than on its execution.
Do you have a web project?
I explain how to implement it successfully and how to achieve your goals.
In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss project management, its history, its definition, the role of the web project manager.
I will also present the different methodologies for formalizing and deploying a web project.
History & definition of web project management
For some, project management is a recent “discipline”. In reality, it is an activity that goes back very far, almost to the dawn of time. The Egyptians would never have built their pyramids, nor the Chinese their Great Wall, nor the Romans their aqueducts without project management skills.
Obviously, the term (Project Management) was not used, but as often the reality pre-exists the name. All these ancient constructions were not made at random, without plans, without schedules, without teams, without the budget and without all the elements that one associates today with the project management.
The discipline called “Project Management” was only standardized in the 1950s. At that time, many companies had structured their management and production processes. The Gantt chart, which allows to visually represent the progress of a project, was already in use.
The Critical Path Method, which allows to plan the stages of a project and prioritize the sites, was developed in 1957. Beyond these standard methods, many people involved in project management used their own methods of Project management.
Things have changed with the publication of the reference book “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge”, published by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in 1998, which helped standardize project management methods.
Recent years have also been a period of major change in the field of project management. In particular, due to the publication of ISO 21 500 in 2012, which further contributed to standardizing Project Management methods.
But the most important change is a change of mind. There has been a growing awareness of the importance of individuals, project actors, and stakeholders in their diversity, whereas in the past attention was focused on techniques, scheduling, etc. 2012 can be considered the symbolic date of this change.
This is the year of publication of the fifth edition of the PMBOK Guide, which contains for the first time a section dedicated to stakeholder management.
It was also at this time that new methodologies and standards emerged, highlighting the role of the team and collaborative work in the success of a project.
In 2016, the PMI integrates new skills in Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, grouped under the Talent Triangle concept. From now on, it is not enough to demonstrate one’s technical skills to obtain an official project manager certification. Broader skills, extra-technical in some way, are required: in strategy, customer relationship management, leadership (coaching, emotional intelligence …).
The project manager of today is no longer a pure technician but must be the equivalent of a mini-CEO, with technical and strategic skills as well as an overview of the project.
The role of the web project manager
A project leader, as the name implies, is the person within an organization who is in charge of designing and executing a specific project or several projects. More specifically, the project manager is in charge of: planning, budgeting, project management and reporting. Moreover, while we are there, it is not useless to recall in two words what a project is. A project is a process that has a beginning and an end and that leads to a concrete realization (a product, a service …). The project manager is the person who oversees the production process.
In some cases, he is also responsible for pitching the project to management. In other cases, the project is already approved when entrusted to it. The project manager makes the point between the management and the teams that will be responsible for executing the project. The role of the project manager is to ensure that everything goes as planned, that the perimeter is respected, that reports are made regularly, that the schedule and the budget are respected.
Potentially, the project manager can come from marketing, IT, human resources, advertising, etc. There are as many profiles as there are types of projects. For this reason, there is no standard job description for the project leader and standard university training. In addition, some project managers did not follow either a degree program or certification training.
Here is a summary of the different roles of the project manager (web or not):
We can quickly detail each of these roles:
Identify the resources needed. One of the main roles of the project manager, at the beginning of the mission, is to identify the resources that will be needed for the proper execution of the project and the achievement of objectives. By resources, we mean both financial resources and human resources (skills / talents needed) and technical (tools …).
This supposes a perfect understanding of the project.
Constitute and lead the project team. The project manager needs a competent and experienced team to carry out the project tasks. There are two possibilities: take the leadership of an already existing team, already formed, or create one from scratch by selecting the appropriate profiles.
Once the project team is formed, the project manager is the person responsible for assigning the tasks, setting the deadlines for each of them, setting up the collaboration tools (Trello, Asana, etc.) and “Motivate the troops” on a daily basis.
- Manage the timing. All tasks that contribute to the realization of the project are subject to timing constraints, which themselves depend on the deadline of the project. The project manager is the person to be assigned the task of defining a time estimate for each task and putting it in the general timetable.
- Manage the budget. Nothing is done without money. The success or failure of a project is very much related to the ability or not to find the necessary financing for its realization. Many projects fail because the costs of production have been poorly estimated in advance. At this level, the project manager has two responsibilities: first, to produce a realistic budget estimate, secondly to follow the commitment of expenditure on a daily basis and to compare it with the estimated budget.
- Satisfy the stakeholders. The goal of the project manager is to deliver to stakeholders (owners: management, investors, the client) an achievement that meets (or exceeds) their expectations and to ensure their satisfaction. For this, the project manager must not isolate himself and go headlong into the project. He must be in permanent communication with the stakeholders, inform them of the progress of the project, keep them abreast of the obstacles encountered, and be attentive to their feedback.
- Manage problems and risks. The realization of a project (web or other) is never a long calm river. Problems, unforeseen events, obstacles arise in any project. What makes the quality of a project leader is in large part its ability to quickly resolve obstacles when they arise. It also lies in its ability to manage risks, that is to say, to anticipate problems and to do everything possible to prevent them from happening.
- Pilot the project. To pilot the project, it essentially means to constantly measure the results and to compare the real metrics with the forecast metrics (estimated during the design of the schedule). This involves collecting data on the project, in the broad sense including the reports of the performers.
- Produce reporting. Reporting is a communication tool with team members and stakeholders. One of the roles of the project manager is to ensure effective communication around the project, its progress, and its obstacles through the production of reports.
The main methodologies in web project management
There is no single method of project management, far from it. Many methodologies in web project management have developed over time. We will present the main approaches – some are very old, others much more recent.
# 1 Traditional methods
Here are, to begin with, the three methods that could be described as traditional.
The Waterfall method.
This is the most classic method, the most intuitive when you start in project management – the least sophisticated too. It simply involves sequencing tasks over time. According to this fairly basic method, the current task must be completed before moving on to the next task. Hence the name Waterfall, which refers to the very linear nature of the method.
This method may be relevant for projects that involve the realization of a physical product (a building, a computer). The concern is that if the customer or management needs change during the project, the entire sequence may become inoperative. If you manage a project that is difficult to predict exactly beforehand, the Waterfall method is not suitable at all.
The Critical Path Method (CPM).
This method, as we have seen, was developed in the 1950s. It is based on the idea that there are tasks that can not be put into production until another task has been completed. The tasks sometimes have interdependencies between them. The critical path method consists of modeling the progress of the project by grouping the tasks that are at arm’s length. This method also consists of identifying the critical tasks, that is to say those which are essential to the success of the project and which can not be delayed. The critical path method, which is explained in detail in this article, is a method of prioritizing tasks.
The Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) methodology,
which consists of focusing initially on the resources needed to accomplish the various tasks of the project. With this methodology, we begin by constructing a schedule, identifying the most important tasks (the critical chain) and allocating resources to these priority tasks.
# 2 The PMI / PMBOK methodology
Some companies use what they call the PMI or PMBOK methodology. In this method, it is a question of breaking down the management of the project into five stages – those listed by the PMI and explained in the PMBOK guide. These five steps (or rather five “process groups”) are:
- The start-up, or initialization phase, whose objective is to define the project and to formalize it (necessary resources, required skills, constitution of the team …).
- Planning, which consists of clarifying the objectives and creating the action plan (and the roadmap) to achieve these goals.
- Execution, which is the phase of realization of planned actions and possible corrective actions.
- Monitoring and control, which consists of measuring the progress of the project and identifying possible drifts.
- Closing, formalizing the completion of the project and ensuring stakeholder satisfaction.
For purists, the PMBOK “methodology” is not really one. It is rather a list of standards and conventions. A kind of dictionary in a way. To learn more about the PMBOK, we recommend reading this article.
# 3 Agile methodologies
Agile methodologies are popular and popular with startups because of the flexibility they offer in project management (hence their name). What many people do not know is that there are actually several so-called agile methods. These methods are particularly well suited to managing web projects or technologies. We identified 5 main ones:
The “agile methodology”, which was published by a group of 17 people in the early 2000s. The manifesto of this method, which explains its operation and the principles on which it is based, is available on the dedicated website.
The agile method is first and foremost a state of mind that focuses on individuals rather than on processes and tools, on operational performance, on listening to customers, on adaptability to change. The agile method, rather than a detailed and directly operative method, is rather the axiological framework from which several methods have been constructed: Scrum, Kanban, etc.
An agile method is characterized by iterative operation (sprints), continuous evaluation of the results obtained, the ability to evolve the project along the way to better meet the needs of the customer, through permanent communication between the head of the company. project and stakeholders (management, client …).
This is the most popular agile method, because of its simplicity of implementation but also because it solves many of the problems that software developers did not encounter in the past. It all starts with the designation of a Scrum Master, that is, a project manager whose main job is to overcome or avoid all obstacles to allow the team to work more effectively.
The project team works on short two-week cycles called “sprints”. Team members meet daily with the Scrum Master to review what has been done or the obstacles encountered.
This method allows rapid development and is particularly suitable for small teams.
To fully understand the Scrum, we invite you to discover the complete article we have already done on this web project management methodology.
It was Toyota that developed this method in the 1940s in order to set up a just-in-time production, and thus to limit the stock in progress to the maximum.
The kanbans were the source of the cardboard cards that ran the entire production line and told the upstream production stations whether they should continue production or not, depending on the needs of the downstream stations.
Today, the Kanban method consists of sequencing the different stages of production of a task in order to follow the progress more easily.
The Kanban method consists for example in classifying each task in “to do”, “in progress”, “to validate”, “completed” columns …
The Kanban method is less directive than the Scrum method and insists on the visual approach.
Tools like Trello or Asana are perfectly adapted to set up this kind of framework.
Extreme Programming (EP).
This other agile method is designed to improve the quality (and simplicity) of software and help development teams adapt to the needs of their customers. The EP method is, like other agile methods, characterized by a development cycle consisting of short sprints and reinforced customer dialogue. The Extreme Programming method, which is designed primarily for software or application development, allows you to make changes within a sprint. If, for example, the development of the X functionality has not started yet, the task can be deleted and replaced by a similar task. Due to its flexibility, this methodology is particularly suitable for projects with changing needs.
Adaptive Project Framework (APF).
What motivated the creation of this method was the realization that it was not possible to manage an IT project with traditional project management methods, because of the uncertain and changing nature of the needs. In this method, we start with a Requirements Breakdown Structure to define the project’s strategic objectives, based on the customer requests, functions and required functionalities. The execution of the project is carried out by iterations. At the end of each development cycle, the team analyzes the results obtained in order to improve the following cycles. Project proponents may change the scope of the project at the beginning of each stage of development. The advantage of this methodology is that it makes it easy to adapt to the changing needs of customers. To understand how this method works, we recommend reading this complete Planzone article.
# 4 Adaptive methodologies
Some project management methodologies focus on the management changes involved in the project and the risk management of the organization. Here are two:
Event Chain (ECM).
The idea underlying this methodology is that there are sometimes potential risks relating to elements outside the scope of the project. It is important to consider these risks and plan an action plan in case these risks materialize. Why ? Because unexpected events, exogenous risks, hazards can affect the planning and even the success of the project.
Extreme Project Management (XPM).
This methodology is opposed to the Waterfall method presented at the beginning in that it allows for massive changes. By applying the XPM method, you can modify the project, budget, and even the nature of the final deliverable to meet changing needs – no matter the nature of the original project. This methodology is very suitable for managing projects that need to be executed in a short time (a few weeks, a few days) in a complex and ever-changing environment.
# 5 Business methodologies
Let’s end with a focus on methods based on a business approach. Some will say that we are moving away from project management methodologies, but after all there are many different ways of managing a project. Process-based approaches have their place:
Lean management is a method of focusing on cost optimization. With this in mind, the first step is to break down the project steps to identify and eliminate bottlenecks, wastes, items that can cause delays or represent unnecessary costs. The goal, through this method, is to succeed in doing the most with the least, to deliver value to the customer using the least human resources, the least money and the least time.
It is a method based on statistics, data analysis and customer voice that aims to improve the quality and efficiency of the process by identifying current defects and problems and making sure to eliminate them to the maximum. The goal with Six Sigma is to deliver a final product without defects, perfect to 99.99966% (hence the name of this method). This method was developed by Motorola.
Lean Six Sigma.
This methodology combines the Lean approach (zero waste) and the process improvement process of Six Sigma. Lean Six Sigma focuses on eliminating unnecessary tasks / resources to make the process more efficient, faster, less expensive and better meet customer needs.
Process-Based Project Management.
This method aligns all project objectives with the strategic objectives and overall corporate values. It consists of integrating the project into a larger framework. In concrete terms, this involves several steps: a formalization stage of the project, the implementation of KPIs and reporting mechanisms, the adjustment of objectives when necessary, the implementation of a continuous improvement process , etc.
All these methodologies apply to project management in general, but are particularly suitable for web project management.
Conclusion – Tips for Choosing Your Web Project Management Methodology
Which methodology to choose?
The choice of the methodology depends on the inherent needs of the project and the needs of your team. Here are two tips to help you choose the right methodology and manage your web project:
The choice depends on the objectives of the project, the nature of the deliverable, your constraints. You must clearly state the needs, objectives and goals of the project. What will the finished product, the one you deliver, look like? More broadly, what type of product is it? What should be its characteristics, its benefits, its features? For the construction of a building or a house, the methods Waterfall or Critical Path are relevant. But if your project involves developing software or a mobile application, choosing an agile method is preferable. If you want to maximize the cost of your project and deliver the final product in a timely manner, Lean or Lead Six Sigma methods can be a good choice.
Capitalize on what is already working. Which processes are currently being applied within the team and which have already demonstrated their effectiveness? How does your team work? In which work environment does your team evolve the best? If your team is used to working collaboratively, incorporating new ideas into the workflow and showing strong adaptability to change, agile, XP or APF methods can be good choices. If, on the other hand, your team prefers to work from a well-defined and well-structured upstream plan, then the Waterfall, Critical Path or Critical Chain methodologies may be more appropriate.