Who owns the website project management process? Is that a trick question? Isn’t it obvious that a firm you bring in to design or redesign your website, a firm like Duo Consulting, owns the website management process?
Well, yes, but yes with an asterisk.
Duo certainly owns the project process, but you also need an internal owner, a point person, someone to reconcile the needs of all your departments and myriad internal constituencies.
Differences of opinions and priorities are bound to surface when designing and building a site. Someone within the client needs to be the final arbiter of those differences or the process will become a series of fits and starts as first one, then another set of needs are addressed.
Duo has documented what’s needed in the process thanks to our years of experience. We guide the process, educate the client and take them through a series of exercises as we go to discern their site needs.
The process begins with a discovery and strategy phase. A client brings together its assets and analytics. Then, the goal-setting process comes in the stakeholder interview phase. The stakeholder interview phase begins to reveal where a site stands at present, what’s its strengths and weaknesses may be and what’s needed in a rebuild or new design.
But different stakeholders within a client likely have different wants and needs. Those need to be reconciled and priorities need to be agreed upon. This is where an internal leader, or call him or her a coordinator or point person, is vital.
Marketing departments often serve the point person role at clients because marketing traditionally owns the site content in many companies. That makes them the logical point of content to discuss content strategy for a site build. In some cases, someone in the IT department may be the point person for the project. Whichever department takes the lead for you, there needs to be a leader. Let’s look at an example.
The Episcopal Church is a long-time Duo client. We’ve built several sites for them and maintain their site, rebuilding a portion of it every year. Barry Merer, manager, web and social media, in the office of communication at the church’s denominational headquarters in New York, serves as the point person there.
Bringing together all the internal stakeholders and reaching agreement on site priorities is a “combination of herding the cats and Russian roulette,” he jokes. The task is complicated by scheduling difficulty, he notes. Roughly 150 people work in the headquarters.
Getting all stakeholders together with everyone’s busy schedules is usually impossible. So Merer must solicit input, discuss priorities and needs and then “you make decisions on the basis of being a good representative and what you believe to be appropriate,” he says.
He assembles a small working group of perhaps five people to establish final priorities for the site.
“We know in our group what the site needs to do and we represent appropriately for the rest of the organization,” he says. Once the working group has hashed out priorities, they are taken to large groups for final “show and tell” sessions, input is received and final plans are developed.
The church is in the midst of what Merer terms a site refit at the moment, having finished one portion of it as 2016 ended and is hoping to have another done by spring. The church has internal site design capabilities but looks to Duo for its site building expertise and has been very happy with the partnership we have had since 2010, he says.
Having a point person like Merer makes the entire project process, which can last anywhere from three to six months, run more smoothly and more quickly.
- While Duo owns the rebuilding process, you need an internal point person for a website build or rebuild project.
- Your point person should gather input from key stakeholders.
- Your point-person needs to establish priorities based on input and ongoing discussion with stakeholders.
- Your marketing department might be the logical place to look for a point person, depending on who owns site content.
- The better a job you do at establishing one set of internal site priorities, the smoother the building process will progress.