I am a web designer/developer and I take some projects from individual clients that include the whole construction procedure of a website. That includes:

  • planning
  • wireframing
  • communication with client
  • design
  • development
  • administration

Even If the project is very limited, for example, someone wants me to create his small company presentation on the internet on a CMS with some news, a contact form etc., I struggle to keep up with the project. I do not know where to start or where to finish off and finally I always do 50% more work that I was intended to.

I am an extremely organised person but I want to follow professional guidelines to plan and keep up with the progress of a small project.

  • 1
    Hi roberto! Worth to review THIS, THIS and THIS. If none of them answers your question, then you can be a little bit more specific on your needs. Thanks! – Tiago Cardoso Jun 17 '13 at 10:43
  • Thanks, they are worth reading but I am looking into something more specific, like a default walkthrough. I have read tons of books on project management and all of them are into "theoretical" analysis of what is project management and what can you do with it. None of them had any examples in real life. Where to begin ? design? wire framing ? develop then design? etc. – Radolino Jun 17 '13 at 11:08
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    Every project has it's own peculiarities, I'm afraid you won't find a 'one size fits all' rule. I believe the word in this case is tailoring (I really like this word, hehe)... you need to gather all you read and see what fits what you need. – Tiago Cardoso Jun 17 '13 at 11:24
  • That's why I am looking for advice from someone experienced that has done this many times before.. – Radolino Jun 17 '13 at 11:35
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I do not know where to start or where to finish off and finally I always do 50% more work that I was intended to.

  1. Knowing where to start requires clearly-defined deliverables that can be decomposed into prioritized tasks.
  2. Knowing when you're finished requires a "definition of done."
  3. Managing work effort requires accurate estimation techniques, active scope management, and an effective change control process.

Whole books have been written about each of these topics. This question is likely to be closed as too broad, but hopefully the short list above will get you pointed in the right direction.

  • I can't imagine why am I getting all this negative votes – Radolino Jun 17 '13 at 22:28
  • @RobertoDelgazzo See not a real question on the help pages for why your question is probably being down-voted and may eventually be closed. However, it's still attracting answers, so I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over it. – Todd A. Jacobs Jun 17 '13 at 23:17
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    People definitely write a definition of done for both tasks and projects. This is about managing project scope. If you don't know what the project is meant to achieve then it will never be finished. There's a good explanation of project fundamentals here: pmi.org/About-Us/About-Us-What-is-Project-Management.aspx – Willl Jun 18 '13 at 9:38
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    I think this quick exchange in commentary reveals why you're getting the downvotes. Project Management is a profession that takes time, committment and dedication. Yes, we really do write down what "done" means - because experience proves that writing down "done" and doing the paperwork is more efficient than doing 50% more work than paid. PM is a profession, not a habit. The implicit disreguard for the profession may have something to do with the downvotes & the objections to the very broad question. – Mark C. Wallace Jun 18 '13 at 10:47
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    Just to be clear, I do not mean to be hostile, but imagine asking your lawyer, "Do people actually write briefs? I'm just looking for the critical parts of being a lawyer". – Mark C. Wallace Jun 18 '13 at 10:50

Frustrating as it is you probably won't find a useful step-by-step guide that exactly meets your needs (I know this because when I first started out in PM I also wanted to find one). The truth is that every project is different and you will need to adapt your methodology to meets its needs. For example, whether you design, wireframe or develop first will be determined by a number of factors: what does the client want/need; how much time is available to complete the work; how complex is the project; how much uncertainty exists in the project etc.

My advice would be to analyse an upcoming project and document what feels like an appropriate and workable project management methodology to achieve it. The five process groups from PMBOK are a useful guide to what your methodology needs to cover though the way you do it (given the scale we seem to be discussing) will probably be quite different. There's lots of advice on approaches to managing one-person projects elsewhere on PMSE that you will probably find useful. The best thing to do is give one methodology a try and stick with it for the duration of the project (unless it's going really badly of course!). If, at the end, it didn't work then change or adapt it for the next project. I assure you that this is how most PMs actually built their knowledge and skills.

Some specific advice

If you're consistently doing more work than expected then you need to think about how you manage scope. If you document what is going to be delivered (as functional requirements, users stories or whatever) and get the client to sign off on this then you've got your scope sorted. If the client then wants to change that scope (by adding more features etc.) then you can agree on additional schedule or resource costs as appropriate.

If you don't know where to start with the work itself then a good thing to do is to ask the client what they expect. Do they want to see designs first or are they more interested in a working prototype? Be realistic about what's achievable in a given period of time and agree how sign-off will work (how many rounds of amendments you'll make etc.) These kind of agreements are a fundamental part of the project initiation and should provide guidance to both you and the client on how the project will be managed.

Good luck.

  • I find it very hard and unprofessional to let the client arrange my work procedures. Some could say I am a perfectionist but it feels wiser to me to walk on a pre-defined path. – Radolino Jun 18 '13 at 7:31
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    But, ultimately, if the client is paying for the work and you want the freedom to do the best work possible it's best if they buy in to the process. If you work in a way that's incompatible with the customer then your projects are unlikely to succeed. Stakeholder management is a huge part of PM. – Willl Jun 18 '13 at 9:35

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