As Atomic’s project manager, my job is to plan our projects and keep them on track. Sounds easy enough … maybe even boring. But there’s one little thing that keeps my job challenging.
Scope changes. Schedule changes. Software changes. You name it, I’ve seen it. In fact, it seems to me that no matter how carefully a project is planned, some level of changes are inevitable. That’s just what happens when a creative concept evolves into a reality.
So instead of closing my eyes and hoping that changes won’t happen, I’m always ready for them. Here are some of the strategies I use to keep our projects on track in the face of the unexpected.
- Talk openly about the impact of changes. Sometimes a client thinks of a new requirement or new idea partway through a project. We can always accommodate these requests, but it’s my job to make sure the client understands exactly how those changes would affect schedule and budget. That way the client can make an informed decision on whether to implement the changes or stick with the original plan.
- Be honest about delays. Every now and then, it takes us longer to execute a task than we thought it would. (Yes, it’s true – we do make mistakes!) In those situations, I always let our clients know right away that we need to bump our schedule back a couple of days. Clients appreciate this honesty, and it helps them to better plan their review cycles accordingly.
- Constantly monitor and adjust milestones. If we miss a milestone in our project schedule, we don’t just throw up our hands and say, “well, we’re sunk now.” Instead, I constantly readjust project milestones as needed. If we get behind on a deadline, I find out if we can expedite subsequent ones. And, if needed, I crack the whip and get our team really cranking to help us meet a deadline.
Of course, in my fondest dreams, all projects tick along perfectly, with every milestone met to the minute. I’ll keep hoping for that … but in the meantime, when changes come along, I’ll be ready for them.
A few months ago Atomic released SlickPlan, a web-based sitemap generator. We’ve had a great response, and several people have asked how we got so much traffic to the site so quickly.
I won’t give away all our secrets, but I will say that submitting the site to a number of directories was part of our strategy.
For those who don’t know, directories are websites that categorize and list other websites. Business.com, for example, lists business websites in categories such as accounting, construction, and healthcare. Submitting your website to directories helps build links to your site and increase your search rankings.
You can’t submit your site to any old directory, however, and expect to get results. There’s some strategy involved. Here the approach I took for SlickPlan. The same approach can work for you.
- Submit to niche directories. It’s better to submit your site to a directory that relates to your industry rather than a general directory like Yahoo’s. Doing so increases the chance of your site being accepted by the directory. And, niche directories have a more targeted readership, so you’re more likely to have qualified leads find your site and click over to it. We submitted SlickPlan to makeuseof.com and webappers.com, for example, both of which cater to web designers and developers.
- Submit to directories with a high Google page rank. Having your site in a highly-ranked directory increases your site’s page rank. It also means that the directory gets lots of visitors, which improves your chances of getting referrals. In addition, sites with a high page rank are generally better made and better respected than sites with a low rank. Being in those directories helps enhance your reputation as well.
- Include links to your site in the directory’s “description” field. Some directories don’t allow you to do this. But if you can sneak a link in, it provides readers with a quick, easy path to your site and helps your organic SEO.
Remember that it won’t help to submit your site to every directory under the sun; in this case, more really isn’t better. Take a targeted approach to directory submission, and you’ll get better results for less effort.