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New Project - Ready, Set...Now What? (Part 2)

Jun 21 '17

Now that you’ve read and communicated the SOW to your team, held both your internal and external kickoff meetings, and your client is eager to get started, how do you coordinate all the moving pieces? 

Step 4: Setup project development

Create the project plan. This includes:

  • Timeline for start date, work and anticipated launch
  • Milestones for  development, quality assurance and UAT
  • Schedule for demonstrating completed work to the client as your team progresses
  • Calendar dates and times for meetings as far in advance as possible to accommodate everyone’s busy lives

Create tickets in whatever system your company uses to that track the team’s progress and provide clear instructions for each required task.

When appropriate, create the requirements documentation so everyone is on the same page about what is being built and how.

Create a budget tracker or setup a way to track your budget in the system your company is using.

* It is important to note here that the setup of individual projects depends alot on how you answered those questions in Step 1 on reading and understanding the SOW (click here for part 1 of New Project - Ready, Set...Now What?).  

For example, if your client wants to be Agile:

  1. Your project plan will need to account for the collaborative back and forth discussions and meetings with stakeholders throughout the project.
  2. You will need to create a sprint plan that details how long the iterative work schedule will be and which milestones are tied to which sprint.
  3. You might need to be prepared to write user stories with acceptance criteria as opposed to simple tasks when tracking the project work.

If your client wants a more Waterfall approach:

  1. Your project will be heavier on upfront requirements gathering before the development can begin.
  2. You might have less flexibility with budget and timeline and need to give very detailed reports of where you stand with both at specific times throughout the project.

In addition to the methodology used, there are specific questions the project manager should be asking based on the technology being used. Below are just two examples of technologies that, while impressive in their depth and flexibility, come with their own special considerations when you are setting up development to begin.

Magento

  1.  Which version of Magento does the client want to use -  Magento 1 or 2?
  2. Has the client thought through which payment processor they want to use and are they aware of the advantages of using one processor over another when it comes to achieving  PCI compliance?
  3. Does the client intend to integrate with their enterprise resource planning system (ERP) and will your company be expected to do this integration?
  4. How much customization does the client want and how much would they rather rely first on functionality out of the box?

Drupal CMS

  1. In what platform is the current site built and which version of Drupal is the most appropriate for the client’s needs?
  2. What are the hidden heavy lifts for your team that the client might not have considered a big effort such as implementing SOLR search, API integration points, a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) or the ability to accept payments online?
  3. Does the client understand that the modules used to build the product will need to be updated routinely long after the project has technically ended?
  4. Is the client hoping to be able to take over the maintenance on the product after launch because they have heard Drupal is open-source and therefore it should be easy to “make the magic happen themselves?” If so, you are going to need to include training for their specific build and make sure they understand that open source does not necessarily mean anyone can do it.

In the end, every project is different and each has its own unique opportunities for success and possibilities for failure. As the project manager, you should have the confidence to own your project, the good sense to listen to your client and your team, and the organizational skills to create and communicate an effective development plan. Remember everyone has the same goal - to reach the end of the project with a quality piece of work that answers a business need. It is the project manager’s job to make that common goal a reality.

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