So you’re thinking of launching an online membership portal. Can you afford to hire a Project Manager? 

Do you need someone to manage your online masterpiece, or can you initiate the project independently? 

Either you feel you can do most of the work yourself or need extra support to pull together and manage others’ creative talents.

What do you want to consider when/if you have to hire a Project Manager?

I am a huge fan of keeping things simple and well within a modest budget. Conversely, launching a well branded, dynamic digital engagement, and user adoption platform could very well require the expertise of a Site Developer, Graphic Designer or Content Manager. – How do you pull it all together?

Don’t get overwhelmed with the long list of questions to consider below. 

Either way, it begins with a well-articulated plan that should include 5 phases; project initiation, planning, execution, control/validation and closeout. Avoid vague generalities and shifting goalposts that may frustrate everyone down the road. Accept when you are slightly out of your element and appreciate the benefits of engaging others to help you.

Start with a brainstorming session, even if with just yourself, to help you define what your project might entail. Strive to work towards precise requirements to achieve well-defined goals. – Dan Trepanier

 

Questions to ask

  • Will a Project Manager ensure the sustainability, transparency and accountability of the project?
  • Who will research needs to see if the other project components do what is needed?
  • Does the web designer customize an existing theme or create a new piece?
  • Who are the experienced developers, and how well do they work together?
  • Where do you find experienced PHP developers who code to a well-defined set of APIs when we have a large project and a multi-month deadline?
  • Do you have access to professionals who understand your industry and the particular needs of your clients?

More factors to consider

  • Interview prospective ‘techies’ and ask how they work to get changes incorporated.
  • Assess their prior experience and review previous work.
  • Define success not as if “we run code on a site that meets our needs” but rather as if “the improvements we contract for are being accepted and applied.”
  • Include posting “patches” via the “issue queue system” as a deliverable in the contracts we write.
  • Consider a potential condition of completion that patches are accepted or justifiably marked “reviewed & tested by our platform community”–i.e., all issues with the patch are resolved.
  • Minimize extra work created by ensuring your Project Manager provides everything the maintainers need, including ample explanation and timely responses.
  • Keep in mind that you do not have to choose between a “quick fix” and a contributed solution. You can and do have both.
  • Use a quick fix on your site while the Project Manager’s team works to have the solution accepted and applied.
  • Be flexible enough to define your need in a generic way that a solution is useful to others and your site.
  • Factor in the time it takes our developer to contribute the improvements back into the contract price.

Hire a Project Manager that will invest the time?

Experienced developers, writers, graphic designers and good project management will create a fantastic site in a reasonable time, but keep in mind that implementing the site’s functionality is only a small part of the work involved.

Will the Project Manager you hire;

  • Start planning your project well ahead of the deadline?
  • Prepare a request for detailed enough proposals to provide a price quote (if you want one quickly) or at least get a reasonable understanding of the project?
  • Answer all your questions in simple, easy to understand terms?
  • Compare contractor’s bids on your project so you can have more options?
  • Research, ask questions, and make a judicious choice?
  • Become available?
  • Know that the best teams have a busy schedule. A good PM may not be available to start working on our project right away, tomorrow, and maybe not even in two weeks. But PMs are undoubtedly able to add our project to the schedule if you offer a reasonable time.
  • Think about your site’s functionality and information architecture? A developer helps, but you have options to think about, people to consult (colleagues, committees, community members, etc.), and sometimes difficult decisions to make and challenge you to focus on the right priorities?
  • Communicate knowing communication takes time (meetings, calls, e-mails, etc.)?
  • Seek graphic design processes that likely involve many iterations and more thinking, discussions, debates, etc.?
  • Create content for use on the site (texts, graphics, artworks, videos, photos, etc.)?
  • Develop a migration path for our old site’s data, when any?
  • Interact with stakeholders and discuss various details all along with the project? The devil is in the details!
  • Learn how to use the system and to manage content?
  • Test and validate the work that has been done and for the contractor to make the necessary adjustments?
  • Examine and comment on our use of the system and to give useful advice?
  • Enjoy life all along with the project?!

 

Define your budget

Having a budgetary figure helps bring the scope down to earth in many cases. For example, your wish list needs to be trimmed back when you do not have enough budget to implement all of it. Once you do that, break the project into tasks (e.g., installation, theme design, programming).

Sometimes colleagues do not understand the term “estimate” and “effort.” They keep changing requirements and expecting developers to deliver solutions without additional costs. 

It is the role of your Project Manager to balance between ensuring prospective “developers do not run away with money,” and serving “colleagues who expect services beyond the reach of their budgets?

That’s why it is necessary to collaborate with all parties to craft and sign an easy to manage scope document that clearly defines the project features, deliverables and timelines. This process not only helps manage expectations and arrive at a fair price, but it also avoids misunderstands when discussing issues down the road. This discipline provides the structure to negotiate and add features later, and the hourly price colleagues are charged.

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TOPIC: Questions To Ask Before Hiring a Project Manager [ST-M2]

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