Smashing Boxes | 07.27.17 | Insights

The Keys to Project Success: Inside the Mind of a Project Manager


  • project management

“We believe successful products are the result of successful partnerships.”

Here at Smashing Boxes, a project manager is the backbone of successful ventures. A PM’s job is to act as the liaison between clients and our team of developers, designers, and quality assurance engineers. To ensure your project will be a success, it is essential to have an understanding of how PM’s operate and the best ways to prepare your plan.

These are the top 5 things that make projects go smoothly:

1. Communication – Communication is crucial for any project to succeed. Emails, phone calls, and video chats are all valuable gateways to sharing important information. It is the PM’s job to relay information to all team members on a daily basis to ensure everyone is on track. It is also their job to be available to answer any questions and receive feedback from the client. Smashing Boxes thrives on communicating feedback to clients early and often.

  • White-boarding and Workshops: During the project kickoff, we set up on-site visits with our clients. We love meeting face-to-face and diving into the project together. In these meetings we are all ears; anything our client wants to share to make the project successful, we absorb. We also invite designers and developers to come help us ask questions and articulate the shared vision. Our goal of these meetings is to accomplish the following:
    • Define project goals and set requirements
    • Set the budget and timeline
    • Articulate each of our steps in the project
    • Get access to existing tools, branding materials, and assets
  • Being Prepared to Answer Questions: It is crucial to be prepared for the questions a PM will ask in these meetings to jumpstart the process. Typically, the questions will be open-ended so that you have the opportunity to articulate your vision. Some thought-provoking inquiries will look like the following:
    • What sets your company apart from the competition?
    • What are the long-term goals of the company? Where do you see your company in 5 years? 10 years? 30 years?
    • Who is the target audience?
    • What are your budgetary guidelines?
    • Do you have a deadline that needs to be considered?
    • How do you define success in the project?

2. Honesty – Smashing Boxes prides itself on honesty with our clients. It is imperative to be open and honest so that we are meeting all expectations, delivering on your goals, and planning for the future. This includes sharing any hesitations you have or risks associated with the project. Always be transparent about budgetary matters, timeline restraints, and any other concerns you may have. On the other side of things, Smashing Boxes’ internal team relies on the PM to be honest about project status and overall progress.

3. Getting the right people involved – For both the client and Smashing Boxes, having the right people on your team is crucial. Clients should involve their subject matter experts, any stakeholders and key decision makers. On our team, we have trained experts in various industries and with vast skill sets. Once the sales handoff has been completed, we pull the best team members for the project together and prepare for the client kickoff. Smashing Boxes is known for its employees who are highly trained in the latest technology and software development techniques.

4. Setting clear milestonesTasks have a start and end date and are open for a duration of time, whereas milestones define a specific point in time. The key milestone for any project is the end date. Smashing Boxes believes it is beneficial to set additional milestones throughout the duration of the project. We use Agile software development processes, which allow for early and continuous delivery of valuable software. At various times throughout projects, our team members will perform a demo to ensure we are staying on target and reaching the milestones desired by our client.

5. Rolling with the punchesDon’t be afraid of what might go wrong. The key is to learn from your mistakes by understanding what didn’t work and how you can improve upon it next time around. Every PM wishes every project was 100% mistake-free, but we realize this is not always realistic. To avoid roadblocks, the best thing to do is take a step back, review what went wrong, and adjust your plan. By having top-notch PM’s, Smashing Boxes is prepared to handle anything thrown our way.

Sometimes projects can get off track. Due to changing markets, it is common for new features to be added during the development phase. Here at Smashing Boxes, we are more than willing to work with new ideas at any point in time. We help our clients keep track of these as a way to continue developing the product in future phases. It is vital for both Smashing Boxes and the client to stay on top of these types of changes.

 

At the end of a project, we always evaluate and confirm the deliverables and client needs have been met. As a PM, our main priorities are making sure both our team and clients are happy, as well as making your vision a reality. With proper planning and mutual support, your project will be a success.


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