Scenario: Project Management for Website Development

A web development team is given an urgent project to design, develop, and deliver a website in two weeks. The team consists of a system administrator, web designer, web developer, content providers, and project coordinator, all working under the guidance of a director. This is an experienced team that has worked together for over two years, but this is the first time they have had such a short time frame to complete a website. For this project, the coordinator defines the team roles in this manner:

  • The system administrator mainly needs to be involved in the beginning and end–to set up space and then to change the site to go live.
  • The web designer, web developer, and content provider need to work closely together on a daily basis.
  • The project coordinator needs to make sure the project is moving and people have access to everything they need to make progress.
  • The director does not need to know what is happening on a moment by moment basis, but needs to know how the project is progressing from time to time.

Yammer group page screenshot with search, collaborative document area, real-time communication channel, and group link areas of the page highlighted

Use of Yammer for This Project

There is an initial meeting with all involved to set expectations. During the meeting, the project coordinator creates a private Yammer group for the project, adds all involved, and creates a page in Yammer to list project assumptions, requirements, action items, and milestones agreed upon in the meeting.

Once the system administrator sets up the website development environment for the site, he posts a message to the Yammer group letting everyone know it is ready.

The content providers set up several Yammer pages to draft the content for the site. They are able to collaboratively edit the pages in real time and comment using the discussion features.

Sharing Content in Development with Group

The web designer begins to draft some visual ideas for the site, but has some questions about how the content is structured–how many pages, how long, whether there are any lists, etc. The designer is able to look into the Yammer group and see the content drafts in progress and the discussion about it to get a sense for what the content providers are thinking. The web designer uses the comment feature on the Yammer pages containing the draft content to ask questions. The content providers then receive Yammer notifications as soon as the web designer posts her questions. The content providers quickly navigate to the discussion and post their answers so that the web designer can quickly use the information to make design decisions. Having the conversation visible within the same area of the Yammer content page makes visual referencing very easy for all involved.

Shortly thereafter, the web designer posts mock-ups of the site design to the group for feedback. The other team members are able to discuss these visuals by posting in Yammer. The next day, the designer posts a new iteration of mock-ups based on the feedback from the discussion.

Director Peeks In

After a few days, the director wants to know how the project is progressing. She looks at the Yammer group and skims over the pages and messages. She sees that the development site is set up, and progress is being made on the design and content. She posts a message to an ongoing discussion centered around one of the pages, clarifying some issues. She also posts a message to this private group asking for details about the reasoning for an aspect of the site design. The project coordinator and web designer, upon the Yammer notification of the director’s post, respond with individual responses. This allows the director to see the reasoning for the design from two key team members.

Issue Resolution

At the end of the first week, the web developer runs into an issue with the server. He is able to post a message to the group mentioning the name of the system administrator. The system administrator is notified of the message immediately and is able to join the discussion around the issue.

Bringing a New Resource Onboard

After the first week, a third content provider is added to the project. He is added to the group and is able to get up to speed on the project and the work that has transpired thus far by looking over the content in the private Yammer group for this project. He is also able to use the search feature to find information about the project in a just-in-time fashion. The fact that this Yammer group represents a repository of discussion and information allows the new member to review this project’s history all in one digital space, allowing him to get involved more quickly than with traditional methods of reviewing project information.

Project Completion and Project Team Artifact Preservation

Within two weeks, the team meets their goal of launching the website. The knowledge that was applied to decision points and solutions to technical problems encountered is preserved in the Yammer group for later reference.

Conclusion

Yammer allowed the team to coordinate easily. Its status-update style encouraged short, frequent updates. Information was not pushed to all the team members, but they were able to visit the group and pull information when it was needed. This is in contrast to the e-mail model in which members of the team would be bombarded with information or having to request and hunt information down from individuals. This is especially powerful for people only peripherally involved in the project (like the director). This real-time communication channel also allowed team members to react and reply to updates within context in a quicker fashion than using traditional methods. Overall, the project team was able to contain its conversations in one collaborative and transparent space.

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