With the growth of digital platforms and services I’d imagine you’re increasingly having involvement in digital projects. Whether you are a project lead or the head of marketing signing off on a project, many marketers now work with agencies to deliver digital projects and this is where good project management really comes into play, especially when juggling multiple stakeholders. With every project being unique, the project approach needs to be tailored to the specific requirements.
Taking some time to think about how you want your project to run at the start is well worth it. I have written this blog to provide you with some handy tips to think about when running your next digital project, whether that be a website build, app development, e-mail marketing campaign or a lead generation programme.
The role of early insights
At the beginning of a project the key step of gathering relevant data is often missed out. Early assumptions can be made and if these are not validated at the start, they can wreak havoc on your project further down the line. What type of data could this be? Top level data on the following areas below would be a good start:
- Website analytics including dwell time, bounce rate and what content is popular
- Proportion of traffic that is mobile and which channels deliver the best quality leads
- Geographical reach
- Browser usage – i.e. is an old version of IE still used by your customers?
Once you have reviewed this information it will guide the project strategy and approach. Particularly when it comes to briefing an agency, having this information at the start will save time.
Tip: For example within the audience profile tab of google analytics you can see the location trends of where your visitors are based. If you are re-developing your website in English and fail to realise that 50% of your visitors are from Russia, then you’re missing a big trick.
The same with browsers, in some older manufacturing industries a proportion of your customers may still be on IE6, but if this isn’t identified early on, it can become very costly to optimise your website retrospectively.
Agile v waterfall – which approach is right for your project?
The next question is what project methodology to implement.
This is an iterative and incremental method of managing the design and build of digital projects, it focuses on adapting to business context rather than following a prescriptive plan. A benefit of agile for digital projects is that it can be broken down into phases and anything learnt in one phase can be applied to the next. It is very collaborative and is usually lighter on documentation.
This leads me onto the waterfall approach.
Waterfall is a sequential design process in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, testing, production/implementation. This is where any delays at one stage can knock the whole project off course. Though depending on your company culture and organisational structure e.g. multiple approvals then waterfall may be the preferred option.
Tip: Ask yourself and your team what type of process would suit your requirements? As some agencies will only work in one methodology it’s important to ensure the project approach works for you.
Don’t forget the testing!
The beauty of digital is the testing and optimisation available. With access to real-time insights there should be no excuse for insufficient testing time. We can be too quick to simply get something ‘live’ as opposed to taking the time to run small user groups to see if the end product is fit for purpose. Also you can never test enough, with the array of devices and browsers available, asking your colleagues to check the site or app on as many compatible devices as possible is never going to be a bad thing!
Tip: Get your digital asset into the hands of your end users early on, asking your most loyal customers to test out your new website or app not only gives you invaluable feedback, but also builds working relationships.
The importance of the de-brief
We can always improve processes and learn from our mistakes and this is where a de-brief comes in. At the end of a project it’s easy to want to close off the job and banish it to the archived folder, particularly on more painful projects that may have gone over budget. At BDB we do an internal de-brief at the end of every project and if the client wants to engage in the process as well, we then share our learnings with all project stakeholders. We find this not only helps us to improve our processes but helps to build client relationships and trust too.
Tip: Schedule in the de-brief at the start of the project so it doesn’t get forgotten and keep a log of any issues as you go so these can be re-visited at the end.
This blog was originally posted on BDB.co.uk where I was a Digital Project Manager working with international b2b clients.