Keeping projects on track seems simple. You lay out a plan and then follow the plan. Right?
As an experienced B2B web design agency, we know that keeping a project on track is a full-time job. There are so many variables and chances where delays happen. However, in our many years and hundreds of B2B website design launches, we’ve learned a thing or two (or five).
In this post, we share the 5 project management tips we use to keep our clients happy and web design projects on track.
The best tip here is not to expect anyone to know or understand everything. We’ve designed and built hundreds of B2B website designs, but for many marketers, this is often their first or possibly second website design project. What is second nature to our design and development team may be completely foreign to our clients. We understand this and want to ensure it doesn’t frustrate or confuse our clients.
The solution is over-communicating. We don’t just share a timeline and expect everyone to be on the same page. We walk through the timeline and explain the process. We clearly express what our team handles and what the client is responsible for providing or completing. It’s important to continually share progress and next steps. Continuously sharing ensures the client understands where the project is in the process, what’s required of them, and what’s next.
Read more: How to prep for a B2B web design project.
Advocate for the Client
Our team is extremely well-versed in our processes and has seen what works and what doesn’t work for B2B web design. As such, we consider ourselves client advocates who are continually looking out for our client’s best interests. Part of this includes making decisions for the client that benefit them. We only do this if the client isn’t sure and is looking to us for advice or if time has become a factor.
The decisions we make on behalf of the client are based on years of experience and tons of web design and development experience. With an understanding of their main objectives, we make decisions that keep projects moving smoothly and benefit the client. For example, if a client needs to ramp up their SEO but doesn’t have time to review H1s, we’ll optimize the H1s and launch the page to get the page indexed and attract new visitors searching for their products or services.
Include the Client in Your Project Management Tool
All experienced B2B web design and development agencies use a project management tool (or tools) to track and plan projects. At Bop Design, we currently use a tool called Forecast for tracking and planning out all our client and internal projects. Other common tools are Basecamp, Asana, and Trello.
These tools are incredibly helpful for keeping our team and our tasks scheduled out and on track. We’ve also found that for some client projects, it can be helpful to add the client to the project management tool. This isn’t the best fit for all our clients, so we are selective about it and only add a client if we think it will help them to stay up to date with their project and deliverables.
Provide a Clear Schedule
When it comes to projects with multiple phases and many moving parts, a clear schedule is critical for a successful, timely B2B website launch. We believe it’s crucial to share this schedule or timeline with a client so they can see what is happening when and how long certain steps take. It’s also helpful because it shows how a delay in one phase can impact the timing of another phase.
A clear schedule that is continuously updated should also highlight important dates. These dates should be tailored around the client’s needs or deliverables. For example, on our B2B web design projects, we advise clients when we need the final approval on a design so we can prepare all the files and walk through the design/functionality with our developer. As it can take several weeks to build a website, if the final approval on the design is delayed, it will push out the website build timelines as well.
Read more: Tips to ask a B2B website developer.
Be a Good Listener
One of the strongest qualities of an excellent project manager is good listening skills. We’ve discovered that being a good listener keeps projects running smoothly. A project manager who listens closely and then communicates back what they understand ensures that what the client wants is implemented in the project. Design choices can be emotional and subjective, so it’s crucial to ensure what a client communicates is translated into what they want from the design or website.
Another helpful way to establish clear communication and keep the project on track is to send recaps of meetings. These provide the client with the meeting takeaways – what is on their plate and what is on the project manager’s plate. Having a clear understanding of expectations keeps everyone on track and on schedule.