Establishing the Right Team
The next logical checklist question during the preproduction stage is "Do you have the resources available?" Making sure you have the right people with the right tools who know how to complete the tasks relevant for this particular project is important. Do you have a person competent to deliver each aspect in the set timeframe you just established in the step above? That's also why it's good to ask them how long it will take a certain task to develop. Even if the average developer only takes x amount of time, that's all irrelevant if this person requires twice that amount of time and he's the one doing it for this project. As you select your team, make sure to list the tools that will be used for this project. Also ensure that each person involved in this project has the right set of software and hardware necessary to complete their portion of the project. Nothing will slow a project down more than if someone on the team decides to deviate from the set plan and uses something that is incompatible with the rest of the team's work.
Now, the tricky part...the true art of project management...setting start and due dates for every aspect and every person involved. Take a project with a six-month development time. Everything can't be done at once. Well, which aspects need to be done first? What elements need to follow? Can anything wait, or will that hold up someone else? That's why it's not only important to issue start dates, but (just as importantly) issue due dates. If a graphic designer is given the go-ahead to start designing the look of the site but waits on his end of the line too long, how will that affect the programmer who wants to begin testing some of his code to see how different things will affect the overall layout of the page?
Give everyone a realistic timeframe in which they need to finish that particular portion of the project. And as a part of the original creative brief, make sure that they provide the right deliverables. Completing a task on time is one thing, but if it's not what was needed in the correct format, being on time is pointless, anyway.
So how many different people do you have to "be" to effectively project manage a Web site? You've bombarded the client with questions for research, you've mapped out the information into a written brief with an accompanying flowchart, you've read Jason Miletsky's Web Photoshop books in order to think like a designer, you've read every article on InformIT's Web site to understand programming from every alternative aspect, and you've even used the non-pictorial side of your wall calendar to plan the milestones of this project. How many does that make?
Oh, and don't forget one more personality that you need to incorporate: the ability to be your own devil's advocate to challenge everything that you just worked out and make sure there are no holes in your plan. If you have successfully done this, you have completed part one of the project management lifecyclethe preproduction phase. Now, you are ready to jump in and start developing. Look for future articles as we continue to break down the aspects of project management during the production process and what to do at the end of the project.