Recruitment and social networks

Two reports, published by Jobvite, analyze the relationship between social media and recruitment, with special regards to the American job market.

They are 33 essential recruiting stats and Job Seeker Social Survey 2011. In short:

  • 55% of the companies surveyed plan to invest more resources in the next year for recruiting with social networks
  • more than 80% of companies use LinkedIn, but just 30% of job seekers is in LinkedIn
  • 89% of the U.S. companies surveyed indicated their willingness to use social networking as a tool for recruiting
  • LinkedIn is confirmed, with 73% of usage, the largest social network in terms of recruitment, followed by Facebook (20%) and Twitter (7%)
  • 2/3 of the companies surveyed have hired thanks to social networks

On the same topic there are two interesting infographics published by Mashable, the first with suggestions on how to protect and improve the professional online presence, the second presenting the results of a survey based on recruiters and the relationship with social networks.

And, speaking of statistics and surveys, I remind you that also this year A List Apart published one for anyone who works with the web. Starting from the results of a previews survey, in 2008 I tried to give an interpretation to better understand the role of the web project manager.

The 2008 web project managers’ census

In April the webzine A List Apart published the findings from a survey that – for the second year – tries to highlight patterns and behaviours among web job titles.

Last year I isolated some information regarding web project managers [in Italian] so it’s quite interesting to compare this hypothesis with the new findings.

There are several confirmations. A web project manager:

  • follows an educational path that usually starts in the programming field
  • usually works for small or mid-sized businesses
  • it’s 30 to 40 years old
  • works for a corporate more often than as a freelance

Let’s have a closer look at the findings.  Some questions are different from the 2008 so a direct comparison is only approximate.

Corporate versus freelance

Job title by workplace (2008)

This analysis was not included in the 2007 survey and it represents the percentage of web project managers that work for corporates rather than as freelances. Compared to the other job titles, a web project manager more often works as for a corporate rather than as a freelance.

This is not an unexpected finding and I’ve already answered to a similar question in the FAQ (Does the web project manager work for a company or is he a freelance?): in most cases a web project manager works for the company he manages projects for because the quality of the project depends on reciprocal people acquaintance. This approach is not profitable if the web project manager works as a freelance.

There are, however, situations in which the web project manager is a freelance; it works for one or more periods of time (usually semesters) in order to help the company in improving project management skills.

Percentage of web project managers

Job title (2007)

Job title (2008)

Looking at the 2 years there are not significant differences compared to the other job titles.

Quite impressive the “other” category, more than 1/4 of the total.

Job title distribution by organization type

Job title distribution by organization type (2007)

Job title distribution by organization type (2008)

The table shows the percentage of web project managers employed in different organizations (note that some categories have been merged with respect to last year).

The majority of web project managers (8.4%) work in small organizations.  This confirms a trend:  a web project manager most of the time works for a startup, an organization where frequent deployments and strict timing require a professional in charge for the achivement of the objectives.

Job title distribution by age group

Job title distribution by age group (2007)

Job title distribution by age group (2008)

There are not many differences between the two years. One is not born web project manager, but becomes a web project manager after some years of experience (usually when she is 30/35 years old).

Gender distribution by job title

Gender distribution by job title (2007)

Gender distribution by job title (2008)
There is a small increment regarding the role of females in web project management, and the same increment is shared by all the job titles, maybe an indication of the improved visibility given this year to the survey.

Percentage of job-title holders who earn salaries of $100k+

Percentage of job title holders who earns salary of 1000k (2007)

Percentage of job title holders who earns salary of 1000k (2008)

The trend of last year is somehow confirmed.

Perceived relevance of education by job title

Perceived relevance of education by job title (2007)

Perceived relevance of education by job title (2008)

There are some changes regarding the perceived relevance of education.

The fact that all job titles experienced an increase in satisfaction can be considered a sign that the question was better understood by participants than last year. In general, however, a bit more than 50% indicated as relevant their education, suggesting that there is room for improvement.

Job satisfaction by job title

Job satisfaction by job title (2007)

Job satisfaction by job title (2008)

The percentages increase a lot with respect of last year: maybe this is another case where the question was better understood.

Compared to other job titles, however, web project managers’ satisfaction increase in less proportion, leaving the top of the list.

It’s quite difficult to explain the reasons considering that the variation happened in just a year. Maybe the web project manager’s role, in some context, can’t find the room that it deserves.

But, on the other hand, it’s high time for the web project management to grow from a discipline that confine all the responsibilities to the project manager towards a source of leadership and vision.

Prelevance of blogging by job title

Prelevance of blogging by job title (2007)

Prelevance of blogging by job title (2008)

The web project manager is the tail-end when it comes to writing for a blog.

As suggested last year, the reason can be that it’s difficult to write regarding a job strictly related to human interactions and with many facets. Difficult, but not impossible. A pity.

Participation in formal training by job title

Perceived relevance of education by job title (2007)

Perceived relevance of education by job title (2008)

The web project manager is one of the job title holders that more take part in formal training. The percentage is close to the ones of professionals that are used to a constant training, such us usability and accessibility consultants.

This result can be explained by the heterogeneity of skills (managerial and technical) required for a web project manager.

Perceived skill gaps

Perceived back end skill gaps by job title (2007)

Perceived back end skill gaps by job title (2008)

Concerning back-end programming, less that 17% states to have some skill gaps. This result, compared to the other skill gaps graphs, confirms a trend: one becomes web project manager usually starting to work in areas close to programming, rather then design or marketing.

PMBOK and agile development

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is considered the bible of project management. Bible in that it deals with every facet of project management by means of 5 process groups (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, closing). Bible also for its size, more than 400 pages packed with concepts that often scare who is studying to become a Project Management Professional.

Thanks to this reputation, concepts expressed in the PMBOK could seem far from the agile development methodology and some weeks ago I expressed my opinions regarding this topic in the Web Project Management FAQ.

And now Forrester publishes on its site an interesting (but not free) report, The PMBOK and agile: friends or foes?, that deepens these arguments.

Starting from the differences between PMBOK and agile development, the authors soon highlight several points of contact between these 2 approaches. But it’s the last part of the report, where they state that it’s possible to combine the strengths of both to optimize outcomes, the more interesting.

In particular, an agile developer can find in the PMBOK:

  • a help to clearly define project initiation and closeure;
  • a guide to effectively communicate with all the stakeholders;
  • clear directives for risk management.

Conversely, an agile methology can help traditional project managers in:

  • defining roles and responsibilities across teams, giving individuals the opportunity to learn from each others and to plan collectively;
  • encouraging teams to focus on detailed planning of smaller blocks and using that knowlegde to influence future planning;
  • building stronger relationships with customers;
  • writing the “right” amount of documentation.

Web Project Management FAQ

This article contains answers to several questions I receive regarding web project management and can be considered a sequel to what I wrote in Introduction to web project management.

It’s a starting point. If you think that there are some aspects that deserve to be deepened you can use comments or the contact page.

What is web project management?

Web project management is a discipline that helps building web projects (sites and applications) that are delivered complying with the deadlines, planning the best compromise between quality and cost and satisfying initial requirements. Web project managements is the expression of the web project manager’s skills in organizing and managing resources towards a shared goal.

What is the role of a web project manager?

The web project manager is the professional in charge of the management and coordination of a web project from its inception to the delivery, dealing with every person involved in the project. For a detailed explanation of the web project manager skills, you can take a look at Introduction to Web Project Management.

What is a web project?

A web project is the set of activities required to build sites or applications that satisfy user requirements. It spans between specific start and completion (delivery) dates and its goal is to create a unique product or service which brings beneficial change or added value. A project is different from a process in that the latter is made by a repetitive series of steps to produce the same product or service (see the definition of project management in Wikipedia).

Is web project management a methodology?

No. Attending some courses you have the feeling that project management is just a series of rules to adhere to using Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Project, all surrounded by acronyms like Prince2, PMBOK, PERT, Scrum. Methodologies are important because they set guidelines that facilitate many web project manager’s tasks, but web project management is a job made of relations with clients, developers, designers and freelancers. A project manager is first and foremost a  leader, not a tracker.

Are there courses that help in mastering web project management?

No one, except some rare case starts his career as a web project manager. A more common situation is to work for the IT department of a software house or web agency  and develop management skills that can eventually lead to become a web project manager. A web project management course can help the project manager in improving her skills and competences, especially in terms of analysys and risk management. But a course is not enough to help a student, a designer or a developer master this discipline.

What is the difference between web project management and software project management?

Web project management has its own peculiarities that make it different from the “classical” definition of software project management in terms of innovation and communication.  The web project manager’s skills span multiple disciplines, such as publishing, design and television. These characteristics are well expressed in Web Project Management, a book by Ashley Friedlein:

  • development schedules shorter and more aggressive;
  • multiple projects to be managed simultaneously;
  • “cutting edge” technology;
  • no standard pricing models;
  • clients understand the medium and its parameters less well;
  • team members often perform multiple tasks and roles;
  • project manager is not always the main point of clients contact;
  • innovation is key objective for many web projects;
  • change is endemic.

Is web project manager synonymous of webmaster?

No. The web project manager is the professional responsible for the right execution (design, development, release) of a web project. Once a project is delivered the web project manager is no longer responsible. At this point the webmaster is in charge of the ordinary management of the site or application. Usually a web project manager works for a consulting company while the webmaster works for the same company that commissioned the project.

Does a web project manager work for the marketing or IT department?

The web project manager usually belongs to the IT or creative department. Reading some resumes or job proposal it happens that one can find the term “web marketing manager”. This label doesn’t identify the professional responsible of the project, but the one in charge of the marketing part of the site, the set of activities aimed to bring traffics toward the web site or web application. Sometimes the term “web project manager” is erroneously used to mean “web marketing project manager”.

Does a web project manager work only for mid-size or big companies?

No. A web project manager can work both for big and small companies. What can differ is the role of the web project manager in these different kind of companies.

In mid-sized or big companies the web project manager can work for project that last several months. In this specific case the web project manager has to possess a strong understanding of project planning and risk management because even the smallest problem can have a huge impact on costs.

In small companies the web project manager usually manages various projects at the same time, many of which can last for few weeks. In this case it’s important for the web project manager to be able to define roles and schedule team members ensuring that project resources are used effectively.

For these reasons a web project manager should underline his skills while writing a resume, specifying in detail roles and responsibilities.

Can a startup be interested in hiring a web project manager?

Yes and it’s self evident reading the findings from the web design survey held by the ezine A List Apart in 2007. Job title distribution by organization type, in particular, highlight that the greatest percentage of web project managers work for startups, followed by web and software agencies. A possible reason is that in working environments that require strong innovation skills, frequent releases and fast changing roadmaps, a management role is paramount.

How does web project management fit in an agile development environment?

Web project management finds its expression with different methodologies and development tecniques. It’s a project manager’s task to define, together with his team, the right method to follow and, when needed, its learning and widening.

Can a web project manager be responsible only for a part of the project, such as web design?

It depends. Usually a web project manager is responsible for the entire project’s life cycle, from its inception to the delivery. However, if his firm works only in the web design field, the web project manager obviously will be responible only for this part, that eventually will converge in a broaden project. This activity has however its own life cycle, that could end when templates are developed.

In well structured situations a web project manager can be in charge of a part of the entire project, while other colleagues can be in charge of other sections. In this case it can be that a gerarchic structure exists, with junior web project managers that report to senior web project managers.

What are the roles involved in building a web project?

It depends on the project, but usually the main roles, apart from the web project manager, are:

  • account manager – responsible for winning new business, he’s usually the first person the client meet;
  • webmaster – manages the site once it’s live;
  • information architect – build and organize the site’s architecture so that information is easily searchable and findable;
  • art director / web designer – responsible of the creative concept of the entire product;
  • analyst / developer – the professional that, together with the web project manager defines the technical standards to adopt and is responsible of the programming part;
  • editor / copywriter – chooses and writes the site contents;
  • consultants (marketing, usability, user experience, strategy, etc.) – professionals with particular expertise not found in the agency.

Other experts can help with the project delivery, such as testers, illustrators, database administrators, audio/video professionals, journalists, search engine optimizators, community professionals.

How much a web project manager has to master his team’s skills?

A lot. The ideal situation would be that the web project manager is able to build on his own some parts of the project and that he reserves time to do so. This would allow him to be up to date with current standards and solutions and to anticipate problems. Project planning skills can be improved too, even if it’s clear that the web project manager should ask his team to provide a detailed scheduling.

Does the web project manager work for a company or is he a freelance?

In most cases a web project manager works for the company he manages projects for. The main reason, considering that he’s a professional that works closely with other experts, is that the quality of the project depends on reciprocal people acquaintance. This approach is not profitable if the web project manager is a freelance.

Does a web project manager need to master Microsoft Project?

It depends. Some web project managers work with just Excel sheets while others prefer to build complex diagram in Microsoft Project. More than the tool what’s important is to keep these documents updates and share them. A detailed diagram kept in the web project manager’s drawer is useless, while a simple sheet of paper delivered every week to every member of the team is invaluable.

Is web project management a full-time job?

In small agencies it’s quite common that the web project manager works side by side with his team and helps developing small portions of code. This is the ideal working environment for him, because he has the opportunity to improve his technical skills too.

What’s the difference between management and leadership?

The answer to this question is well expressed in an article written by Mike Morrison. In short management skills are the ones required to manage people and resources to deliver a product or service while leadership skills are the ones required to engage with people and persuade them to ‘buy-in’ to a vision or goal.

Introduction to web project management

Update: I recently wrote the Web Project Management FAQs

If you look at my profile you’ll see that I work as a web project manager. But what does a web project manager do and, consequently, what is web project management?

A web project manager is a professional that deals with the management and coordination of a web project (site or application) from its inception to the delivery (and more, if a maintenance phase has to be considered). The web project manager is an all-accomplished figure as he gets in contact with the client, with the salespeople, with designers, with developers and with systems analysts; with – in other words – everyone involved in the project.

Compared to a project manager in the traditional software field, the web project manager usually works on pathways that have yet to be explored. Constant innovation, heterogeneous working groups, agile development methodologies are all variables that deeply influence his working behaviour.

It’s quite difficult to define exactly the skills of a “good” web project manager, but we can try to list them. A web project manager

  • is able to evaluate a project in terms of cost (infrastructure, people, content, maintenance), time (needed to design and develop the application and delivery date), quality (measuring it with quantitative metrics)
  • interact with the client. At the beginning of the project meetings are held with both the web project manager and a salesperson; subsequent meetings are managed solely by the web project manager together with the client. The web project manager is often the client’s only referent; that means he is also the only one responsible for delays/bugs/misunderstandings related to the project
  • works with a group whose members own very heterogeneous skills
  • masters communication skills: face-to-face, in a meeting, on paper. A web project manager can write documentation fluently, especially the requirements document and the project specifications. Sometimes a web project manager designs prototypes and wireframes
  • chooses the most appropriate professional figures for a particular project
  • is able to plan his team’s timeline even when there are concurrent projects in development
  • doesn’t just define costs and timings on his own, but knows when and what to ask to his team in order to obtain a detailed and shared forecast. He’s not a one man band.
  • he believes in group spirit, and cultivate it
  • promotes and rewards everyone’s success. The project manager suggests improvements in one’s professional skills when he thinks it’s time for something new and eventually is able to evaluate the achievement of agreed objectives
  • is conscious that problems can’t be avoided, but knows how to anticipate them. He is able to recognize them in advance, so they can be addressed before they turn into emergencies
  • defines how much space there is for innovation in a new project and when, instead is better to reuse consolidated solutions
  • finds and works with teams and freelances in outsourcing when internal resources have been already allocated (or are not enough skilled for the particular task)
  • knows how to design and develop most of the project on his own, even if with poorer results compared to his team. This allows him to estimate projects with good approximation and to understand his team’s problems and difficulties
  • understands when to accept compromises – budget constraints not always allow to build an excellent product

When the web project manager improves these skills, the quality of his work improves too. Using delegation in the right terms, for example, can lead to the development of new skills inside the team and can add more time to other opportunities for the web project manager himself.