Project Management: The Musical!
Using the power of music to tell the story of our approach to project management.
Photo of discovery session
Recently we had a higher education client approach us for help with a strategy project which would define the goals for a future redesign and rebuild of their website. They knew their current site was no longer serving its audiences, the CMS workflow wasn’t working for their team of editors, and the internal political structure around who controlled which part of the site had gotten convoluted and unruly over the years. Overhauling the site wouldn’t be an easy undertaking, since several departments would be affected regarding both cost and workflow, and there would be some unhappiness within one group with the switch to another content management system.
They knew it was time for their team to come up with a solid plan to get a project of this scale off the ground, so they decided to start with an initial strategy phase that they managed internally. They took the time to do some initial internal work outlining high-level goals, taking stock of their current content, revisiting their governance plan, taxonomy structure, and doing a fair amount of research on their users.
This helped get the internal stakeholders on board to move forward with the larger project, but they still needed help in defining the goals and applying data to give them a more measurable outcome at the end. Since they didn’t quite have enough hands on deck to get this done internally, they called us to come in and give a strategy assist. We loved seeing this initial work done by their team, since it gave us a greater understanding of what they needed. It was now our job to take this existing strategy work and ramp it up on steroids in order to create a stronger and broader foundation.
I’m particularly fond of this phase of a project. I love getting to know clients, learning about their needs, uncovering their frustrations, and at the end, being able to start a new project with a clear understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish. Once we’ve defined a plan for success, it not only provides a clear path forward on the project, but it also allows everyone involved to circle back at the end of the project in order to assess the project’s success.
But what’s involved in strategy work? What does it mean exactly?
Some things you need to establish during this phase are:
Strategy work can be very extensive involving several weeks of in-depth analysis, or quite lean with just a day or two of work. The more work you can do upfront, the better. Not everyone has the luxury of time and budget to go as deep as they’d like, but even if there’s a very small budget, it’s better to do some strategy work upfront than none at all.
Tasks that could be completed during initial strategy are:
It can be a lot of information to absorb and consolidate depending on how deep you decide to go. At the end of this phase, your team should be well organized, with an understanding of the top-level findings, and able to make recommendations on how to address them in order to hit the defined goals and make the project successful. It also helps redirect the team if they are going down the wrong path, giving everyone a feeling of reassurance that you’re all moving forward in the same way.
After three months of diving deep into strategy work, we were able to give our client a fine-tuned strategy document, backed up by data, and supported by a comprehensive plan of action. They are just now entering the design and development phase of the project with the plan we helped craft, giving both teams the confidence they need to ensure a sustainable website at the end that accomplished everything that was needed.