menu close

What is project management, and why is it on my estimate?

8.5 min read

Project Management Banner

Behind every successful digital project, a project manager works in the background to deliver a project on time, within budget, and running as smoothly as possible from start to finish.

They work hand-in-hand with the entire digital team and are often unsung heroes, ensuring happy team members and seeing they have what they need to create high-performing websites to brief and specification.

So, let’s dive in. What is the day-to-day role of a project manager, and how can they make or break a project?

What is the role of project management in an agency?

Often seen working away in the background, ensuring the studio wheel keeps turning and projects run smoothly and efficiently. But what we do is incredibly important to the team and our clients.

It unites our clients and teams, creating a pathway for successful project completion and getting everyone on the same page.

To many clients, the role of a project manager seems like an unnecessary addition to their estimate; it can be expensive, but skipping project management could lead to costly mishaps later in a project. Without a project manager, who keeps the team together? Who scopes and foresees any hiccups or blockers on a project, both internally and externally.

A project manager becomes the all-seeing eye over projects. Supporting the flow through the studio and ensuring the client is kept fully in the loop (sometimes daily) on project progress.

We will, however, chase the client on their expected timelines and deliverables, too. No one avoids a project manager's core goal of project delivery. Joking aside, we can be taskmasters, but we can also be your best friend. We endeavour to achieve only the best outcome for all involved in a project.

The value of project management to your project

Strategic alignment: We run planning workshops on many of our projects. These sessions support our project managers throughout the project life cycle, enabling them to ensure that the website, its design, and functionality support your business goals, budget, and timeline.

Risk management: We can identify potential issues within the project plan or scope early on and implement strategies with you and our production teams to avoid them. Our teams work hard to produce core functionality specifications to which everyone is held accountable. The client signs these off alongside any design or planning of the project to ensure we have captured the complete technical requirements of the website at the earliest stage.

Resource management: We are a small but mighty team, ensuring that the utilisation of our team resources is a core driver for us. We have many projects running alongside one another. Therefore, the project management must focus on solid workflow planning. It ensures that our team works efficiently to achieve not just one but many projects with varying deadlines.

Problem-solving: We wouldn’t want to expose our team to any conflicts or difficulties our clients are having. We are here to protect and support the production team to help them get the best results for our clients. Placing them in any conflicting conversations could harm their relationship with the project. As project managers, we have perfected communication and conflict-resolution skills. These skills are imperative to project success, and they guide both our team and the client to the correct result, ultimately leading to project completion and client satisfaction.

Quality control: The project manager is accountable for maintaining our high standards throughout the design and development process. We pride ourselves on only doing our best work, so quality checks and review stages must be baked into every project. You’ll see these markers included in your project plan from the very start. They include internal and external design reviews and a large chunk of time post-development for QA, snagging, and post-go-live testing.

Clear communication: This is the linchpin of good project management. Delivering clear and concise communication makes a project. Being that facilitator of regular transparent updates, we keep you and our team in the loop at every stage to ensure successful project delivery.

What tool do we use to support client expectations?

At Abstrakt, we are power users of ClickUp. It helps ease the burden of large tasks such as the organisation of projects and timeline management, but it even helps with the small stuff like individual development snags and task tracking.

ClickUp supports our project managers and team with the studio's workflow. Creating a space for the weekly workflow to live in a digital environment, a space our team can access at any point throughout the week. It supports them by keeping them in the loop on tasks and project deadlines, briefs, supporting documents, and internal or external project feedback.

How can it be supportive to a client, too? I hear you ask.

ClickUp is great for creating the chart all project managers love; a Gantt chart! We work hand in hand with our clients to produce a solid Gantt chart for their project timeline. It represents all client and agency deadlines. It supports enabling the client to see a clear project pathway that leads to their website go-live—making the Gantt chart collaborative, holding tasks that both the agency team and the client team need sight on, with task deadlines. This gives us a clear view of any blockers or areas that may harm the project's success. We can keep track of tasks that have dependencies and shift and mould the plan to suit.

Why is this Gantt chart so crucial to the project management team at Abstrakt?

ClickUp then allows us to create tasks with subtasks on a project board that ONLY we can see internally. It means we can keep track of those tasks that need completing at any stage of the project, linking them up to the Gantt, and then flag where there may be blockers or tasks that could be at risk to the project plan.

As a team, we also find that ClickUp is an amazing support for collaboration and communication. It houses many different communication streams, such as commenting and tagging on tasks; here, you can directly mention a team member to bring them into the fold. It ensures that all team members are on the same page and can collaborate effectively in real-time. We have found that ClickUp reduces the need for other communication tools, too. We have seen a considerable drop in project chatter in our Slack channels. It’s a fantastic turnaround for our team and means that all project chatter is done in a space that is easily tracked. There is no need to scroll back weeks and weeks in a Slack chat to hunt for that brief or client amend.

ClickUp was a standout change for our team and clients. It supported us in addressing many of the common challenges we are hearing from other agencies and those we were struggling with. It empowered our team to maintain the organisation of their tasks, enhanced collaboration and enabled our clients to keep a close eye on their project progress. Ultimately, ClickUp supports our team with more efficient and successful project outcomes.

Why is project management billed?

When reviewing your project estimate, you might wonder why a significant portion is allocated to Project Management. If the bulk of the work undertaken by the production teams, design and development is where the costs should lie, right? Why is there a need for an additional management layer outside your team?

A project manager is your point of contact; we speak your language. We are responsible for managing expectations set in the original project scope and timeline. We work with you, not against you, to ensure we manage your requests and meet the expectations of both your goals and our timelines and scope.

You can see your project manager as your guide through a digital project. Whether you’ve been through the process before or not, we are there to take you on the journey in a collaborative and supportive way.

We are an extension of your team, a point of contact on any level and with any stakeholder whose expectations must be met. As a project manager, we are used to being in front of an MD, CEO, or CTO of a business to demonstrate and display project goals, blockers, and success.

Project management is the backbone of any digital project. It's a position that plays a pivotal role in ensuring that your website is aesthetically pleasing and functional and delivered on time and within budget.

Project management importance

Case study | Brickability

Lack of project management causes digital teams and their clients to face erratic management, unrealistic expectations, deadlines, and an unsuccessful or poor quality outcome. It’s detrimental to team morale, leads to a lack of return custom and risks giving your business a bad name.

At Abstrakt, we pride ourselves on our client satisfaction, going above and beyond to ensure what is delivered meets and exceeds the client's expectations and leaves our team with that warm glow of success.

Here’s an example from one of our most recent projects, Brickability, a complex project with several moving parts, including migrating ten websites into one—no small task for us as an agency or the client and their marketing team.

One of the most significant benefits of project management was ensuring timelines, accountability, and workflow management to meet deadlines.

A clear deadline was scoped early in the project, as early as the workshop. A project plan was produced hand in hand with the client that worked back from a defined, achievable deadline. This ensured that the client's deliverables and ours could reflected in the one project plan. It allowed us to raise any blockers or red flags that could be detrimental to the project at any stage.

Working hand in hand with our clients means we place different milestones and accountability markers throughout the project for each of us, even with a project like Brickability, which lasted several months and needed to include review stages and signoff milestones with multiple stakeholders.

Our projects are often complex or have strict deadlines.

Abstrakt understands we manage internal stakeholder expectations and working with a project manager means we’re kept informed at all project stages. We collaborate with Nikki to create a project plan that works for us and Abstrakt’s production team so that, as a business, we can understand critical dates for deliverables that we need to achieve to keep in line with our deadline.

Beth Ralfs | Marketing Manager | Brickability Group PLC

Along with our role to the client, we also have a responsibility to our internal team. Our knowledge of how our team members like to work along with their goals, workflows, and processes allows us to champion team members and introduce or place them onto the project as and when they make the most difference. It frees up their time to be utilised on other projects in the studio while still being aware of the project's core goal in the background.

Becoming that buffer between the client and our team enables us to keep the noise around the delivery team low so they can focus on what matters most to them.

I value having an efficient and organised PM on every digital project.

They keep away the everyday project noise and filter client feedback to allow me to concentrate on doing what I do best - designing! They’re the “glue" that holds the whole team together, meaning we’d fall apart without them.

Lucy Williams | Lead Digital Designer | Abstrakt

Adding project management to your estimate is not just an extra line item; it's an investment in the success of your project. It guarantees that the final product is not just a website but a tool that supports your marketing strategy and adds to your business success.

Deciding to redo your website isn’t easy and often feels daunting. We work with our clients collaboratively every step of the way to design and build a website that works hard and looks great. If you’re ready to take the next step and engage a web design agency, get a feel for our approach and speak to us about your goals, objectives and what you want to achieve with your new website.

Nikki Article

Nikki Taylor

Nikki leads our digital projects to guarantee exceptional quality at every step of project delivery with a background in UX design.

She has specialist knowledge in project management and digital design.

Connect on LinkedIn.

Our approach to design sign off with prototypes

4 min read

Prototypes Thumb

What to consider before you engage a web design agency

6 min read

Engage Web Design Thumb