When you embark on a web development project, you need to build a talented team to ensure it is a success. This might include developers, web designers, data engineers, and more – but what about a website project manager?
Many businesses are unsure about whether they need to hire a project manager for their web development efforts. They can increase the cost of the project, and management can cost you anywhere from 15% to 20% of the total budget.
As such, some organizations wonder why they should pay the added expense of a website project manager if they already intend to hire marketers, developers, and other staff. However, hiring the right project manager is crucial to the success of your website.
Studies have found that if a project fails, 39% of the time it is due to a lack of proper management. Whether the team is missing direction, the strategy was not well-developed, or there was no accountability, not having a website project manager on board can prevent you from accomplishing your goals.
This guide will help you understand the importance of a project manager for your web development project. We will dive into what their role looks like and ways that they can add significant value to your project.
The Role of a Project Manager
As you consider hiring a website project manager, it is beneficial to understand their role in your organization. So, let’s get started by defining the role of a project manager.
While you may imagine the job consists of managing excel spreadsheets, updating schedules, and running meetings, there is actually much more to it. Per the Project Management Institute, they are considered to be change agents that take on the project's goals as their own.
As the first point of contact for both developers and clients, your website project manager is responsible for resolving any issues, motivating all stakeholders to complete their tasks on time and within budget, and keeping lines of communication open.
The project manager will also keep the interests and goals of the client at the forefront of the project. They have the skills and expertise to support the developers as well, though, so they create a sense of teamwork and shared purpose for all the project staff.
For example, a project manager may prepare status reports, troubleshoot and test website prototypes, conceptualize the web design process, lead the IT development team, consult with stakeholders, and more.
Here are some of the essential ways that a website project manager adds value to your development efforts:
Develop a Strategy from the Beginning
Developing a strategy from the onset of the project is essential to its success – and a website project manager can help you do just that.
Think back to an ambitious project that you were on that seemed to have no direction. It was likely challenging and chaotic and, with no project manager to keep the team on task, nothing was accomplished.
A good website project manager does more than just schedule meetings, press buttons on a keyboard, and sign papers – they are a critical component to developing a strategy that will carry your project from start to finish.
Imagine if you had to build a home without a foreman to keep workers on track and provide them with the appropriate drawings and materials. The quality and effectiveness of the project would not be up to standard.
The website project manager is the foreman of your development project. They work behind the scenes to build your strategy from the beginning and ensure that everything runs smoothly along the way. Every client will have various goals for their web development project, and the manager will learn the details so they can help accomplish them.
After they understand the client’s requirements, they will develop a high-level strategy to guide the website development from beginning to end. The project manager may even be involved post-launch, as they will continue to meet the client’s expectations and implement the project plan entirely.
Build an Accurate Budget
Another way that a project manager can support your web development venture is by building an accurate budget. It doesn't matter what you are working on – a budget is a fundamental tool to ensuring your project is a success.
Unless you are an industry giant like Google or Amazon, there is a good chance that you need to manage your cash flow very carefully. The average business needs to maximize the effectiveness of those limited resources, and the best way to do so is to develop an accurate budget.
Having a website project manager is key to building a budget that meets the needs of the organization while allowing you to support your clients. The wish list for the website might get bigger and bigger, but the project manager is responsible for keeping your developers and designers on track.
It can be easy for costs to get out of control if no one is tracking them, so having an effective project manager is invaluable here.
Why is it that project managers can help you build and maintain a budget in such an effective way? For starters, they are the ones that are working through the approved timelines and tasks. Since they are continuously communicating progress and potential setbacks, they can stick to the budget as much as possible.
In other words, they manage the entire scope of the project – so they won’t approve additional work or costs if it means that it will push the project over budget. They communicate these constraints to the client as well, so they can address these issues proactively.
Website project managers also allow you to allocate resources and money where they will be most useful. It doesn’t matter if the project is large or small – it is inevitable that scope will shift, and you will need a project manager to keep your budget from being derailed.
For instance, your project manager can break down your budget and align it with each step of the project to maximize control. It also means they can inform the client of any cost overruns before they get out of hand.
Have a Clear Timeline
Did you know that a website project manager can also help your team establish a clear timeline? It can be frustrating to clients and developers alike when they are unsure of when a project is expected to begin or wrap up.
An effective project manager can develop – and maintain – a timeline so that everyone is always on the same page. It also avoids work from piling up all at once, so developers have the appropriate amount of time to work on the project.
Similarly, a good project manager will set realistic timelines that align with the overall strategy for developing the website. This means your team isn’t stressed about tight turnaround times from the very beginning – and will help the project start on the right foot.
Each website development project will have due dates and deliverables from the client and developer sides. As the project manager, that individual will work closely which each stakeholder to keep the timeline moving forward and ensure that the deadlines are met. Any delays, scope changes, adjustments, or other unexpected events will be communicated so that everyone is aware of where the project is at.
If you want to easily meet your milestones and keep your customers happy by fostering open communication, then you need to hire a project manager for your web development project. The more informed your clients are, and the better you can stick to your timeline and keep the project moving, the happier all your stakeholders will be.
There is a clear theme for why you need to hire a project manager for your web development project: to enhance communication. Whether that is communication between designers and developers, or between your project team and the client, it needs to be clear and consistent.
If you ask clients and developers, communication is one of the most common pain points. The best way to remedy this pain point is to hire an expert project manager that can facilitate collaboration and teamwork. Remember that a web project doesn't ever really end - there will be regular updates, changes, and reporting requirements.
With that said, you need a project manager that can stay on top of these events as the project evolves. They will need to inform the relevant stakeholders at each stage of the project and ensure that everyone is aware of what is happening.
Simply put, collaboration and transparency are the keys to success in any project – but this is especially relevant when building a website with many deliverables, moving timelines, and changing scope. Working with an experienced website project manager allows you to keep everyone in the know regarding budget, remaining project hours, timeline, and deadlines.
The better the communication and collaboration between your team members and clients, the more efficiently and successfully you will be able to complete your projects!
Improve the Quality of Your Project
Project managers are important for any web development project because they allow you to improve the overall quality of the product you deliver. Since the project manager oversees the entire project, from web development and testing to communicating with clients, they can ensure that the product meets stakeholder requirements and quality standards.
The project manager is responsible for reviewing each development component before the client sees it. As such, they can determine whether the functionality meets or exceeds their requirements. During this quality review, the project manager will flag any issues that may prevent client signoff or project completion.
The goal is to take a proactive approach to quality and avoid any surprises that derail your project at the last moment. If the project manager is on top of things, they have enough time to schedule additional time and resources to correct problems or address unanticipated scope changes.
As you can see, you need to hire a project manager for your web development project. The idea that all they do is eat up your budget and create unnecessary overhead is just unfounded – they serve a critical role, and most projects will be unsuccessful without them.
If you want to complete projects according to your strategy and timeline – and without going over budget – then you need a project manager on board to facilitate communication and drive progress. They will be responsible for maintaining the timeline, project expectations, and goals so that the needs of the developers and clients are met.
Don’t make the mistake of embarking on a web development project without a PM! Many projects are unsuccessful because they lack direction, guidance, and management – so you won't regret hiring an expert to support your team.