The Essential Role of Project Management in UX

The Essential Role of Project Management in UX

Where Digital and UX are concerned, project managers deal with a number of aspects such as team resourcing, scheduling meetings, and financial planning (to name just a few tasks) on a daily basis. The role of a project manager in the digital industry isn’t too dissimilar to project managers across other industries, however, it is one that is becoming increasingly valuable to businesses seeking transparency and value from their web projects.

It is therefore the responsibility of the UX team to be accountable for perfecting their timing and reassuring businesses that their process works. Unfortunately, this is often easier said than done.

THE RIGID WATERFALL METHOD

A company looking for shortcuts with their website may choose a freelance designer or an agency that works with a more linear waterfall method of project management, an approach with very little client/agency collaboration, or scope for iterations. In essence (as the name suggests) this waterfall method is straight down without compromise, lacking the versatility for clients to see the design or development of their site until the project has been completed. This approach is cheap but can be incredibly risky and potentially detrimental to business, which will have minimal input or investment throughout the process beyond the initial brief they provide.

THE FLEXIBLE, AGILE APPROACH

The agile project management approach (otherwise known as a sprint cycle or scrum) is the preferred choice for many UX agencies and project managers nowadays. This approach allows an agency and client to work collaboratively on many things at the same time, encouraging regular communication between both parties, and short feedback loops. The beauty of this process is that the client is involved at each and every step leading up to the outcome, not just at the outcome as with the Waterfall method, therefore allowing for all parties to be proactive, not reactive.

THE VALUE OF THE AGILE PROJECT APPROACH

Digital projects will inevitably cost more with an agency that adopts the agile project management approach, as there is a greater level of due care and attention, as well as time invested around achieving the optimum performance for websites. It’s a good sign when designers respond by challenging the brief and communicating about project plans. It’s better than an agency or designer that doesn’t challenge any details from an initial brief or have any plan, other than just to crack on with the website. Those agencies that do choose to challenge the brief will at least be able to deliver timescales and a budget based on actions, unlike an agency looking to dive headfirst into a project without properly forecasting timescales or costs.

IN SUMMARY

Effective project management serves as reassurance to businesses that defined actions and outcomes delivered by a UX team are measurable. An intelligent project approach also guides businesses on how wisely their money is being invested. The value of project management to the process can’t be understated and should always be factored into discussions with prospects from the outset. Providing this information in the early stages will certainly help, not just to set expectations, but also for businesses to more accurately forecast their budget/spend for their website. Where businesses are concerned, they should find that receiving forecasted costs for their website alongside a defined project plan provides a greater level of assurance and substance. Certainly, it’s better than spending money on a website which they or their stakeholders had very little influence or involvement in creating. Successful UX can only be achieved by a clearly defined project plan to support the process.

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