Project managers organize project resources, plan the project, track progress, and otherwise facilitate the team's work. Project managers working on Web development for the first time face many new challenges. Icon's best practices and the IconProcess Plug-ins smooth the move to Web projects by revealing proven techniques.
Project managers often ask us the following questions. Read on to learn recommendations you can use.
How does managing a web-based project differ from a client / server project?
When you're managing people using different technologies such as content management systems, streaming video, and web servers, you have to recognize the need to manage roles - beyond the scope of pure software development. Competencies like business strategy, graphic design, and content editing - roles not usually involved in client / server projects - are integral to intranet, Internet, and extranet projects. Security, usability, and communication challenges are even greater when users beyond the bounds of your company are involved.
I do not know enough about those competencies to integrate them into my project. How do other companies do it?
You can benefit from Icon's extensive experience in building intranets, e-businesses (for global audiences as well as local ones), and developing technically complex multi-channel strategies and applications. Each IconProcess Plug-in focuses on a specific aspect of the Web development process (e.g., usability testing, user research, information architecture). Process extensions contain recommendations for:
- Timing and frequency of activities
- Tailoring the activities and templates
- Performing activities successfully
- Staffing roles
Read the FAQs for details.
How do I integrate an IconProcess Plug-in into my project?
- Select an IconProcess Plug-in or two to enhance your existing process.
- Use the role description to understand the skills needed by someone to fulfill the role. Select someone to fill the role.
- Review the related activity description. Use its timing information to determine where an activity fits into your project's lifecycle. The description uses multiple terms (e.g., discovery, inception, start-up, requirements phase) for each project phase so you can map the activity into your lifecycle, using your terminology.
- Use the artifact tailoring criteria to determine how formal the artifact or deliverable needs to be on your project. You will also learn how others typically tailor the template for different types of projects.
- Perform the activity using the recommendations and tips in the activity description.
- Use the template to document information or as an additional checklist of decisions to make and topics to consider.
We do not have a formal process. How could I use the integrated IconProcess?
- Read the article "An E-Development Framework" to understand the IconProcess structure.
- Use the phases to define major milestones in your project plan.
- Use the workflows to define the high-level activities and dependencies in your schedule.
- Use the workflows for large-grained tailoring of the process. For example, if the existing business processes do not need significant change, remove the Define Business Processes and Design Business Organization high-level activities from the e-Business Strategy workflow.
- Identify fine-grained activities to include or exclude from your project plan, based on the workflow details.
- Build your staffing profile from the role descriptions.
- Use steps and techniques in the activity descriptions to help you succeed.
- Use descriptions of activities and artifacts excluded from your project as a checklist to ensure you aren't missing critical information.
Icon's training on project management, Unified Process, Agile methods, and process extensions give you the knowledge to get started.
Our user surrogates (marketers, business analysts, etc.) can't decide what needs to be built and how it should look. Can the IconProcess help us?
The IconProcess defines a structured yet flexible iterative approach for developing a business strategy and creating a website to support that strategy. If your user surrogates can't make decisions, IconProcess Plug-ins may help. Extensions identify what types of information you need to make sound decisions. They recommend how to organize the information and the criteria to consider while evaluating options. If user surrogates continuously change their minds, then you need an iterative development approach. (A best practice for any situation.) Iterative development gives you the structure and flexibility to embrace change rather than fear it.
Sometimes, user surrogates change their minds because the overall team lacks the skills to make good decisions autonomously. For example, marketers may be unskilled in human-computer interaction principles, and yet they are structuring a site and its navigation. They may constantly make changes, because they do not understand the principles that should inform their decisions. They may mimic whatever site they visited last - regardless of that site's quality or its relevance to the project. The IconProcess Plug-ins help you evaluate the skills your team has against the recommended skill sets.
I know user involvement is important to building good systems, but I've had a hard time involving users from my own company! Now I'm building an Internet site for use by people I've never met. How can I be sure my team builds the right system?
Understanding user's needs and then balancing those needs with corporate goals, time-to-market, and budgets is more of an art than a science. The IconProcess includes a benchmarking activity to investigate competitors' sites and other activities that use proven human-computer interaction (HCI) techniques to understand user needs. Combining these results with an understanding of the business strategy, risks (business, technical, and resource), and overall resources, allows you to set priorities and build a system to meet user needs. Icon's e-Business Strategy discipline is a process for understanding and defining business strategy for e-development. This strategy identifies the target audience and drives the web application's features, content, and tone. Apply these best practices to your project by buying and using the User Research process extension.
My team wants to create a Macromedia Flash piece for a website. How do I successfully plan and manage that activity?
Identifying the benefits of rich media and deciding when such enhancements outweigh changes to schedule and cost can be a real challenge. Who needs to be involved in these decisions? How do you fit the development of the concept and its implementation into an already tight schedule? The IconProcess Web-enabled User-Centered Design process extension offers guidance on Web development challenges like these.
Is this a silver bullet?
No, the IconProcess cannot solve all of your problems. A process will not replace the need for creativity, problem solving, and serious thought. A process is not a substitute for skills and experience. However, a process will facilitate skilled people's work, allowing them to produce the desired results more efficiently.
Read the FAQs for more information about the IconProcess, process extensions, and how to apply these techniques.