When building a complex website, should I hire a project manager?
I am looking to build an online marketplace and have been talking to a few developers who can help build the website. I have met with a few people that are not developers, but project managers with expertise in product development. Do you recommend that I hire someone like this to build our initial prototype? I am wondering if the benefits are worth the added costs?
Krista, as a former technology PM I can tell you that it depends. First and foremost is project management is a "responsibility" not a role. You can give the responsibility to anyone on the team. Just make sure that you clearly delegate that responsibility.
What is more important at this stage is really understanding the goal of the project and what you want your desired outcome to be. Then make sure everything that everyone on the project is working on is moving toward that outcome. Too frequently the REAL goal is not well communicated, so everyone works on their part in the manner that they interpret the goal and you get chaos as a result.
The project management responsibility should be nothing more than communicating the goal and then monitoring that everyone is working toward achieving the goal. Additionally, the person responsible for project management is the person that will take the lead in resolving issues that are outside of the authority of the other members of the team.
So, I would just review these responsibilities and ask yourself who do you have that you're willing to delegate those responsibilities to? If there isn't anyone, then it's either you or you hire someone in you stead to perform the role.
Now, if you don't have the product experience in the area, then you might get a PRODUCT advisor to assist you with your lack of knowledge. But, you don't have to hire a PM to do that. However, you might hire a product specialist and make them the PM.
I hope this helps. Good luck! - Dino
For an MVP or prototype, I am not sure if hiring a project manager at this stage will be necessary unless of course you are looking for a long term PM to work with in which case, hiring should then depend on the cost-value-revenue ratio.
A good/professional developer with sound business knowledge and attention to detail can deliver a good enough prototype to get u started.
Having said that, a project manager will come in handy - to take the workload off you so you can attend to other duties. Working with a developer can be very demanding and time consuming and if you are going to struggle with time or detail, then it might be useful to hire a PM.
Again, you have to weigh this against other indicators.
Hope this helps and feel free to connect if I can be of further help.
Best of luck
Krista, Unless you know how to design sites, make them user friendly and operate seamlessly with the fastest load times it is best to leave the programming and construction of the wire frames to those who are versed in getting around arcane and technical areas of building a website. You don't need a project manager to build a website/marketplace.. and would not spend money to build a prototype unless you have lots of discretionary money to do so.
I am a seasoned event marketer who has built my own websites (over 8), as well as led a team of web designers to build and maintain others on other platforms. My personal experience is there is a really steep learning curve depending on what CMS you use, or in depth knowledge of HTML or XML if you don't go the CSS, PHP route, as well as knowledge of SQL Databases in some instances - and that is before you even get to developing the wire frames for your site(s). Certainly, that doesn't mean you as a non-tech person needs to know code, you just need to succinctly articulate to the programmers what you want, how it should look and operate.
In conclusion.. All you need to know is the end product looks and operates the way you expect it to, you don't need to hire a project manager to do so but you may need a webmaster for your business in the long run anyway so have the in-house webmaster oversee it. Leave the work to the programmers. The one caveat is they sometimes don't clearly get it what you want so you have to be really really precise in explaining and even showing them examples of other sites.
Carson Tang, Carson Worldwide
My answer as a former research engineer is to spend your money on someone who understands that a website is actually a UI to an information system, and not simply a portal.
Most people hire designers who know how to make a website's appealing in terms of the way it looks, and sometimes through guess work functionality, but the underlying accessibility to the function of you system is what will make people come back and use it.
Getting that element right the first time round should be you major priority, and to do that you should be using an iterative prototyping development model. Being able to see what your idea can achieve will get you a lot more money than something that looks good, but doesn't really deliver.
You can make it beautiful after the fact, but the underlying architecture is a totally different ball game, and once it's in place is a lot harder to change. You don't need a project manager for that, but you do need good engineers who understand structured object oriented design methodologies, and can build things in there sleep...
Personally I would not. You are already committed to a developer so I would expect they have the expertise to maximize your marketplace site. If not you may have the wrong developer. Ultimately you have to have a list of deliverables of what you want. You still have to approve and enjoy the site end product so why tell a manager who tells the developer, and so on. Create a list of deliverables with the expectation of functionally and end product look and feel you want. Maybe examples of other great products. Then expect the expertise from the developer for maximum operational statistics and performance to help bring you the traffic, etc.
Good luck on your new site!
For prototyping you don’t need a project manager unless you are certain to move on with full scale project.
For Full scale project; Project manager is highly recommended. As its worth the cost. We develop large eCommerce website and dealing with non technical project owner is sometimes painful. Project manager becomes your adviser and a conduit between you and your developer.
Having said that selecting a PM is complex task. You need to hire the PM with right expertise.(off late many call them Project managers including retired coders , senior testers , guys looking to switch job profiles)
Project manger should have
1) Good understand on technology
2) Expertise in handling a team with tools like task management software , Gantt Charts CPM charts for critical path , Testing processes , code auditing , documentation , worst case scenario management ( eg.if you get into dispute with developers) and so on
So getting Project manager is good but picking up the right project manager is super important
Well said Dino. Indeed for a complex project the role of a project manager is very important. A project manager does not need to be a techie, but someone who understands what is to be achieved and what is on stake. Someone who can map the resources with the cost and time and quality can be good manager.
So even if you hire someone, it will be your responsibility to communicate and ensure the person truly understands the idea. So well expect to invest a lot of your time.
It is also advisable that you hire a company who allocates a dedicated project management person for you. Use gantt to track the progress.
I have helped a lot of new age entrepreneurs with their projects in Web, Mobile & Marketing domain. Do let me know if you need further help.
I would not use project managers for a project in its first phase. I believe you know enough about what you want the website to do, it would be smarter to create an initial website with a MVP (a small product you can start introducing to potentials), based on responses you get, then you start pivoting ideas, and when you find things complicated to manage and hard time making people deliver, then you may consider a project manager. But first do get involved in your project development as much as possible because that is what will give you a clear idea on the tasks involved and what you may really need down the road.
Having a developer at this stage is understandable but a Project Manager is not because you as an entrepreneur initially have to work as a project manager and then when the project goes into commercial phase your work turns into general management of routine operations.
The more you are involved at this project stage the better you will be able to serve your customers and develop business.
This is true with all start ups and entrepreneurs. Every commercial initiative is a project initially for the risk and reward bearer/s till it takes off independently and starts generating returns.
Hope this answers your question.
Best of luck.
I think hiring a project manager at this stage can only be an added cost. Having a small and good development team for start-up is okay as long as they can deliver what you expect for a product. Starting from scratch need no prototype. Just build it simply and level up the site as what is needed. That is why we have newer versions or updates of the products.
After reading all their answers, I guess you'll be the only one to make the best decision for your website. Surely, you can weigh things more because you're more involved in the development than we are. Good luck and have a blast this 2016!
First there are several types of project managers. Some track a project like a bookkeeper, however a good one can optimize for the things that are important to you. These may be: cash flow,total cost, delivery time, front end design, evolutionary design. You may call them top down or bottom up design. Many project managers, and designers have blind allegiance to a methodology, be careful here. Don't forget that you can probably buy what you need off the shelf. Lastly you cannot build a product without knowing what your completion is. You must evaluate each and every competitive product and see what you like. Structure your observations into an outline. Deliver your outline to a trusted associate as a speech, and if it is balanced, fair, comprehensive, discriminating, and feasible put it in writing. Next review it and identify all the requirements to implement it.
The Web designer would at this point create the architecture for your site.
Remember that every change after this point cost both money and product life. To quote from the Mythical Man Month the more you tamper with any operating system the sooner it fails.
We should start from your background. Is this your first project in this field? Are you a project manager yourself or can handle this role?
If the project is first for you and you don't want to be a PM all the time, you should get one. Not necessary to have one for the full time at first. Better to try him during the prototype stage since later on working on a complex marketplace you would better work with someone you already know.
If you hire not developer, but development team or group, they should also have a PM, but this manager will work with them internally. Having a PM even part time on your side is a good benefit for a large project. In this case he will be more like a product owner, since internal PM of the team will handle all the task management activities.
A few more things to think of before making decision
- Do you know how to write a spec or make wireframes for the project?
Developers work better if you have defined scope and wireframed project. PM usually do that (no matter on your side or on their side).
- How often do you want to communicate with the developers?
At first it's time consuming but necessary to keep regular communications with developers, especially when you start.
In case you can dedicate yourself fully to this project and you did this in the past, you can manage project on your own.
Wish you successful project release!
Experience is a enormous thing. You can not have until you perform something. So manager have experience so could worth it. It make huge difference that who can make it and how can you make it?
You should build your initial MVP with our "Startup Incubator Lab" for startups who are at ideation or growth stage.
For more information : http://innomindtech.com/startup-incubator-lab/
Wish you the best,
I prefer managing all the processes on my own. I use the help of some management software for it along with some monitor apps from https://www.refog.com/personal-monitor/ It allows me to be sure that everything is going great with my project. Maybe you guys will find it useful
When building a complex website, I can recommend you to use a professionally designed theme provided by http://www.templatemonster.com . In such a way, you can save a lot of cash on hiring web designers.
Hi! I would recommend hiring a whole company at once, which will deal with your project from start to finish and can guarantee you the result.
For example on the Angry project - https://engre.co/services/management-and-consulting/it-engineering/ there are many consulting companies that can take on the full development of a complex project.
I think this is an economically correct decision, because there are many things that are better just to entrust to professionals under a signed contract. You will be sure that the project will be completed on time