Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part series on our secrets behind successful Project Management. With more than 4 years of project managing experience, our Project Manager, Joshua Teo, shares insider information on how he successfully sees a project through from beginning to end. You can check out Part 1 here.
Now that we have nailed down the planning phase of the project, it’s time to kickstart the actual project execution.
Handling the day-to-day tasks and delivering the bare minimum is an easy requirement. To sieve out the good, experienced Project Managers, there are 3 main areas where they really shine:
- Issues Management
- Change Management
- People Management
As with all things in life, you will never be able to foresee and prevent everything that will happen with 100% accuracy.
This means that it is not uncommon for issues to crop up during a project. What’s more important is how they are managed when they do happen. A good Project Manager would take the initiative in doing whatever they can to assist the client to make their experience as smooth as possible. This may involve liaising with all relevant stakeholders to discuss the best and most efficient way to go about overcoming the issue.
On the other hand, a bad Project Manager will fail to take the initiative of communicating the issues to the client and think ahead to prevent such issues from happening in the future.
We understand how it feels to be left out of the conversation or not be updated on the project — it isn’t a pleasant experience. To ensure we always keep clients involved and informed of the project progress, we have implemented several standard practices in place, such as setting up mutual communication channels early on in the project and sending weekly project summary updates either via a meeting or email, depending on the client’s preferences, to ensure issues in the project are solved in a quick and systematic manner.
On top of that, as part of our best practice, when any issues arise, they will be communicated to project stakeholders as soon as possible, via proper communication channels decided on earlier in the project. This ensures that regardless of whether the issues are on the vendor or client-side, project stakeholders are always updated.
As a company, we also believe in being as efficient as possible in our work. To this end, rather than simply communicating the issues, I also brainstorm and propose a few solutions concurrently. This way, clients or the delivery team can immediately have a few solutions to consider and build upon, reducing the amount of time it takes for issues to be resolved.
As the saying goes, change is the only constant.
From our experience, changes happen often throughout the course of the project. This could be due to changes in direction for the project on the client’s side, certain discoveries in user preferences, or certain limitations on the delivery side that surfaced during the project.
This is where Project Managers come in. Rather than simply implementing the change requested, our role is to first ensure that stakeholders on both sides understand what the change is about and understand any potential risks or impacts that come with these changes, if applicable.
To ensure proper change management procedures are followed, it is vital for us to first understand the motivation behind the change requested. This gives project stakeholders a better idea of the intention behind the change and gives them the opportunity to propose a better solution, if applicable.
Secondly, it is crucial for us to understand and communicate the impact of the change to relevant stakeholders. Some examples of such impact include requiring more time to work or more resources, resulting in project delays, or an increase in costs.
When relevant project stakeholders have a better idea of the impact of the changes requested, this empowers them and keeps them involved in the project, leading to a more favourable project experience.
Besides Issues Management and Change Management, arguably, the most important aspect of all working relationships is the people.
As Project Managers, we are the bridge between the delivery team (designers and developers) and the client. Anything that either party would like to convey goes through us. To ensure everything goes smoothly and that project stakeholders have a pleasant experience, it is essential for project managers to manage the expectations of the stakeholders involved well.
This skill definitely is not easy to master. It takes skilled Project Managers with several years of experience to achieve all the points mentioned to execute the project smoothly.
What are some pointers to note to know if the Project Manager is good? Let’s take a look at some characteristics that determine a good Project Manager.
Exemplary Communication Skills
Communication is key to any relationship.
Without clear communication, it is impossible to have clarity on what’s going on in the project, and something you definitely don’t want to risk happening is having a confused client who doesn’t understand what you are proposing or trying to say.
Poor communication can result in a lot of overlooked areas which can be detrimental to both the client and vendor sides.
Imagine this scenario: The project manager, due to poor communication, fails to communicate project requirements from the client to the delivery team. As a result, the project requirements don’t get factored into the scope of work.
The end result — Clients don’t get a solution they want/ is useful to them, or they have to settle for major extensions in timelines, resulting in much unhappiness from their upper management.
The other way around: If there are certain restrictions on the delivery team e.g. the delivery team spotted an error or is proposing to improve the client’s system, this should be communicated clearly to clients. If these issues do not get communicated to the client due to poor communication on the Project Manager’s side, the project cannot move forward in an efficient manner and issues predicted by delivery team will only be pointed out when that phase of the project comes.
What could have been an efficient, smooth sailing project is now a frustrating experience filled with miscommunications.
This goes to show that even if you have a solid delivery team, the power truly lies in the Project Manager to really ensure things are moving forward in an efficient manner.
Good communication also takes on the form of being able to have a good command of working knowledge for mobile app projects. If the Project Manager doesn’t know what technicalities the delivery team is referring to, or what the client means when they refer to something, they will not be able to understand the situation at hand and convey the messages accurately, and there will also be a breakdown in communication in this aspect.
Keen Eye For Details and Diligence In Processing Project Documents
There are so many aspects to a project that can cause delays and/or issues. Thus, a Project Manager’s ability to pay attention to detail is vital.
The Project Manager is the one to plan the project, go through many important details, determine the project timeline and requirements gathering. Therefore, the Project Manager’s work directly contributes towards building the basis for developing the budget and the schedule for work. Which directly impacts the clients.
Besides having a keen eye for details, a good Project Manager is also one who is diligent about going through the project documents. He will take the time and effort to go through even the smallest of details, making sure no stone is left unturned.
This way, the scope of the project and deliverables are also very clear. Everyone in the project knows their respective roles well and have access to good synergy points to really get the project to the next level.
A bad project manager on the other hand, may miss many small details about the client’s mobile app bringing a lot of problems for both the clients as well as the technical team on the vendor’s side further down the road. For example, certain technical details that are overlooked will cost much backlog and possibly a delay in timeline further down the road.
At Originally US, we go above and beyond for our clients. Besides communicating clearly about all aspects of the project to clients and diligently going through project documents to ensure we don’t miss any detail out, we often go a step further to even put ourselves in user’s shoes and look at the system holistically to determine based on user journey, which journey makes the most sense and what features are needed.
Ensuring All Project Stakeholders Are Aligned
A mobile app development project often has many moving parts to keep track of.
Besides exemplary communication skills and a keen eye for details, how can we ensure all project stakeholders are updated and aligned on the discussions?
One of the ways you can make sure both sides are aligned or on the same page about the project is to do a requirements document that spells out specifically what features the client wants and user flow.
To prevent misunderstanding, this requirements document also has to be very specific. For example, if the client wants search and filter functions, we need to explicitly state the number of search and filter functions we will be developing for, Filter by price, size, item etc.
This helps to prevent any misunderstandings, such as if the client was expecting 10 search and filter functions, but we interpreted it as 3.
Evidently, managing a mobile app development project is not a simple walk in the park. Average project managers are easy to come by, but a good Project Manager who really helps to drive success in the project in all 3 aspects of project management: Issues, change, people, takes someone with years of experience and someone who exemplifies the 3 characteristics: exemplary communication skills, keen eye for details and being able to ensure all stakeholders are aligned, to really create a positive experience for project stakeholders.
At Originally US, we place our clients’ needs at the forefront of what we do. If you are looking for a Singapore IOS Mobile Application Developer or an Android App Development Agency in Singapore to build your vision, look no further!
To find out more about how we execute projects, read our case study for Price Kaki, a price comparison app built for Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE).