April 24th, 2017

LookThink’s president, Joe Mallek, likes to describe our business as a beautiful stone wall comprised of rocks both big and small. These stones are the projects that drive our business forward and exemplify our breadth of expertise. Our biggest stones are the most obvious, but the small stones are equally important to the integrity of our ‘wall of business.’ At LookThink, we believe that no matter how small, all projects should have a project manager who, first and foremost, takes responsibility for the outcome of the project.

A single unproductive meeting might create a domino effect of issues; a miscommunicated task could burn all of a developer’s valuable time.

Let’s talk for a minute about the little stones; these are the projects that have fast timelines, small budgets, or both. They require a special flavor of project management, but believe me, they still need a PM despite their modest size. With limited money and/or time, every piece of the project is magnified in significance. A single unproductive meeting might create a domino effect of issues; a miscommunicated task could burn all of a developer’s valuable time.

I recently managed a project like this for a longtime client of ours, Tax Analysts. Their organization’s homepage needed a redesign to cover the tax reform updates that have recently been dominating headlines. You can imagine why a company focused on tax news felt obligated to directly address this tax reform topic to guide their readers through a period of dramatic change.

We had just under 2 weeks to design, develop, and launch a completely different homepage: one that is dedicated to federal tax reform. This new page also needed to build-in extensive control for admins to update the ever-changing content. In an effort to save time, we held several meetings with the client to review the designs in the context of the business requirements and the development plan. Before any code was written, we needed everyone to understand that section xyz would go here, pull from this other page, be editable there, etc. There was no room for error. We then combined the user testing and training (for administrators) into one meeting where were able to note any bugs and answer any questions during the same session. Thanks to that preliminary meeting, the feedback was minimal and we had properly addressed all of the requirements.

In the end, the page was successfully launched on time, and the client has since been able to easily manage the content updates over the past few weeks. This project accounted for one small piece (i.e. stone) in our wall of work this year, but it was clear that having project management was nonetheless critical for success. The influence of oversight and strategy should never be taken for granite.