If you or your company has their own presence on the World Wide Web, inevitably there is going to come a time when you've made the decision to change things up. It might be as simple as a change of colors, images or adding a shopping cart. Then again it could be as complex as completely changing the way your site looks and functions. Regardless of the project's complexity, the biggest key to success for any Web site project is effective planning. I'm going to take a look at three important steps you can take to ensure that the project gets off on the right foot which will increase your chances of success.

The first step is to layout all the important information right up front. Many project managers will create one of two documents – a Project Charter or a Project Initiation Document (PID). Both of these documents are useful tools in the successful project manager's arsenal but only when done correctly.

Many smaller projects simply utilize a Project Charter document. This document lays out several key elements for consideration including the:

  • Project goals.
  • List of deliverables.
  • Scope of the project.
  • Milestones and timelines.
  • Project personnel involved.

Once everyone has the important elements set in stone and clearly laid out, planning the next steps of the project are much simpler.

More complex projects sometimes utilize a Project Initiation Document. The PID takes the Project Charter document a few steps further by not only identifying the basics of the project, but also laying out strategies for communication, change management and project risks.

The second step for effective planning is to hold a meeting with all the project
personnel and go over your Project Charter or PID. This is a crucial step as you will need the buy-in of the entire team so they can successfully do their part in the project. This is also the time to get all the important questions out of the way up front. The goal for this meeting should be that everyone leaves with a clear understanding of what is at stake, how the project will be managed and what each of their roles will be in its successful completion.

The final step of effectively planning a successful Web project is communicating. No matter how great you've written your Project Charter or how great your planning meeting went, a project can become a mess if you as the project manager don't follow up and keep things moving along smoothly. Regular team meetings, email updates, conference calls, etc. can all be used to keep the project on task and on time.

There are many other things that have to go right and have to be taken into account during the life of a project. Many will be covered here in the upcoming weeks, but starting it off on the right foot with effective planning is the best way to ensure success.

Just remember to plan, organize and communicate.