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Processes, protocols, structure, and lists a plenty – can be helpful and can also be debilitating.  I live by “structure is freedom” but there is such thing as being TOO structured. If you find you are so inundated with “the process”, you may paralyze yourself from actually getting the project moving.

If you have nothing else, these three things are a definite must in keeping on top of things:

  • Timelines
  • Team check lists
  • Follow up schedules

Streamline them…

Timelines are a must – they can be too detailed though and if it is a timeline you are sharing with your client, this could be detrimental if you miss a date. I recommend putting in items that are broad and with an approximate date


Week of Aug 12th 2012 – get final approval on design

Week of Aug 19th 2012 – Development starts slicing design

Check Lists – we use these for each phase of the project to ensure that critical items aren’t missed. Too many lists or including too many itemized elements can be overkill; main points as a reminder to the team, are more then adequate

Follow up Schedule – Vendors, team members, clients all are note worthy to plot into a schedule on when things need to be followed up on. This can be overwhelming to look at, I recommend setting reminders, a few days in advance of when you need to follow up to avoid any potential for overload. Remember, you don’t want to micromanage but gentle reminders to key players will help keep things on track, and help keep you on top of your project.

Structure is freedom; establish a process that works best for you (this may take some tweaking as you evolve in your role). The better organized you are, the more effective, and efficient the team will progress on any project meaning satisfaction guaranteed to any client.

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Hi Wesley,

Happy you like my post. I do find approximate timelines more helpful as it does give some "wiggle room" if set backs come up, which sometimes happens. If things go smooth then we end up being a head of schedule which makes everyone happy.
Ideally, it would be great to be able to use approximate timelines for every project, but alas, some clients do need things by a certain date so we can't always use this method. But, that being said, when a hard date is requested - our clients do ask us to set a date that will work for us and them, in which case I do add in the "wiggle room" before getting them a hard date.
Generally our hard dates are the final date, which is when the site will be in their hands to review - the other phases prior to this tend not to require a hard date (from my experience with our clients) as long as the final date still happens.
We work in an agile environment so having approximate dates will allow for the unexpected, but also keeps the client happy as they know a timeframe to expect things (and also keeps things moving forward on our side of things).

Its a great way to work, as building sites and especially custom sites can require some flexibility depending on the project.

- Tara

On January 9 2013 at 12:33 PM
Wesley Almeida

Great post, Tara. I love reading what other digital PMs have to say about their day-to-day. I really like that you are using "week of" approximation in your timelines. In my experience, I have always created timelines on strict dates but I like your relaxed approach. The same work gets done, and there is still a timeline- but it without the burden that comes with strict deadlines. I see this to be more beneficial on "less critical" projects. Do you use approximate timeliness on most of your stuff?

On November 22 2012 at 10:51 PM

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