Recently I left my position at a major French e-commerce to move to Montreal and join Evolving Web’s team as a project manager, and it’s been a great experience so far! For anyone considering a similar career path, I’d like to share a few things I learned during the first 2 months.
Focus on process before technology
As a Drupal development agency, the work we do here is more technical that I was used to do.
However one thing has not changed: the business process drives the technology. Our value as a Drupal experts agency isn’t just knowing how to develop and configure a website. This is an expected skill.
Our true added value is in understanding our client’s goals and crafting a well-designed approach, before developing an efficient technical implementation.
Communication is key for a successful project
This is a no brainer but so easy to forget that I can never hear this phrase too often. Projects managers must be the cornerstone of each and every communication during the life of the project. First, project managers are always writing something: specifications, meeting notes, projects changes… and sharing this with the team and project stakeholders. The goal here is being sure everybody is always on the same page. A project manager should communicate on a regular basis with everyone involved in a project to check that everything is ok and to detect potential blockers as soon a possible.
Don't underestimate the QA testing phase
Every time a project looks simple or has a tight deadline, it’s tempting to skimp on the QA testing phase. However, I find that a solid testing process is key to delivering solid work. It’s the project manager job to plan for this task, and if necessary educate the client and team about its importance.
Stay customer oriented
Seems obvious, but looming deadlines and technical crises often make this one easy to forget. At all time, we have to keep in mind our client’s needs, keep things simple for them, and be sure that technical constraints don’t impact the client's goals. As an agency, this also means knowing the target audience (our clients’ clients) to craft the right product.
As a final thought, I would say that continuous learning is part of the job especially in the fast moving web industry. A project manager has to be willing to be challenged and improve their knowledge in order to meet the client’s needs.