January 30, 2014
As with any well-defined contract engaging your company with an IT vendor, it is important to read through every line, word and punctuation mark. You will need to make sure that the scope represents the business stakeholders' interests in the development, the budget that your company allocated and an understanding of the team you have hired.
Typically, a web project team includes a designer, an architect, front-end and back-end developers, a QA tester, and last but not least, a project manager.
Sometimes it is this last team member that gets the most scrutiny with regard to the budget. "Why do I need to pay X for someone who isn't directly designing or coding the work I need?"
That is a very fair question, as on paper it usually just says Project Management with a dollar amount next to it. But there is more to this team member than what is initially set in print. Here are four reasons to consider the importance of including the Project Manager (PM) in your contract:
- Your investment in the design and programming deserves assurance and oversight
Your company has spent money on design and development. It deserves a reporting mechanism that assures your requirements are being met. The PM serves as that staff of record to provide you with not only status of the project, but also is the keeper of the requirements, budget and timeline. Having a person solely dedicated to those contractual obligations, ensures that your engagement is being thoroughly considered from all perspectives.
- A steady and consistent voice throughout the project life cycle helps maintain engagement
What I mean by this, is the engagement between your company’s project team and the vendor team ebbs and flows. Typically your team will have the most engagement during the design phase with wireframe and concept reviews. Everyone will have input during this phase. As the project reaches the architecture and development phases, your team will no longer be as engaged as they were during design. So it is during those times that the project manager continues to shed light on the progress of the project. A single steady point of contact helps maintain communication consistency as various players (designers, developers, etc) come in and out of the project.
- Requirements, requirements, requirements
If there is one thing that drives the engagement it is maintaining the requirements. It is inevitable that during the course of any engagement new requirements will pop up. Perhaps it was something that was not considered when drafting the RFP or maybe the company has a new business objective that was created after the agreement. Regardless it is important to make sure that there is a team member that is focused on maintaining the agreed upon requirements and to provide an understanding of impact to budget and timeline when a new requirement appears.
- The Beginning and the End
The start of a project requires a level set of expectations as well as tempo. The rhythm and momentum of a project needs a leader to engage the two project teams. The PM typically involves both teams in confirming requirements and expectations, to get the project off the ground. Once the project has been provided the optimum pace by the PM, the project shifts into the various phases of design, development and testing. This same amount of attention at the beginning is just as important at the end of the project, as both teams prepare for the launch. There is coordination for both teams that are needed and the PM is that guide to ensure that the project has been delivered to specification.
So before you think about writing off the need for a PM in your project budget, take time to review the checks and balances you have in place to assure your investment is being met. Then ask yourself: Who will maintain those checks and balances?
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