As part of the University’s restructuring project, several departments within a faculty were merged. These mergers had to be reflected on the web, which sparked a project to combine several of the sites. This process didn’t always run smoothly, so we have these issues back into the way we work to ensure that future projects face fewer problems.
We need to be more conscious of activities taking place across the University and the schedules that they run to. It’s important that we keep these in mind when planning and scheduling work within the team and be more proactive in contacting units when we think that there will be an impact on the web.
In this example, we could have had the changes ready to go when the official restructuring date came, rather than lagging months behind. In doing so we would have saved time, effort and stress! We have since started work on an annual maintenance schedule, which aims to take into account cycles that are external to our team and identify where they might have impacts on the website. We also aim to turn this into a checklist for staff in schools and departments describing what needs to be done to websites when.
Don’t expect all staff to be project management experts.
Web projects really benefit from having a clear plan and someone keeping a close eye on things. In the past, we have been somewhat guilty of trying to push the burden of project management onto staff within departments, regardless of their experience of managing projects. This was largely due to lack of resource within the team. In many cases we’ve asked ‘clients’ to nominate someone at their end to take on this role. However, we haven’t always been clear in defining our expectations and for many staff managing a web project is simply out of their comfort zone. Experience has borne out that projects suffer as a result, so we will be managing projects more actively within the team in future. Our dedicated Digital Projects Manager, Leigh Blount, started in April 2011 and will be taking on a lot of this work in future.