Newsletter, December 2006
Contents this month
At the coal face: managing an online consultation
This is the first of a short series of articles about how
we work, written by those who actually manage the process. In
each article, one of our project managers will describe their
own experience of a major branch of our work.
This month Erwin Juenemann describes some
of the challenges and satisfactions of managing an online consultation.
A voyage of discovery, a masquerade, a juggling task… project
management for online consultations.
At the beginning of a new project, it is a bit like a voyage
of discovery: Entering the world of a company or organisation
that is new to us, getting to know their people, their communication
habits, the way they work, their requirements. While a lot of
communication during the project is virtual, we need to get an
idea of how our contacts at the client organisation tick in order
to tailor our service delivery to their specific circumstances
- which is best done in the initial face to face meetings.
When setting up the website for a consultation, elements of a
masquerade come into play: In many cases, we aim to imitate our
clients’ websites’ look and feel as far as possible
- within the boundaries of our website templates and the
requirements for accessibility. It is quite a rewarding process
to turn the ‘faceless’ template into a website creature
that will (hopefully) be accepted within the client website’s
In the next phase, we find ourselves performing a bit of acrobatic
juggling. It’s a tricky phase - helping the client
to finalise their consultation materials, the consultation questions,
and structuring it in a way that is suitable to be presented on
a website. The juggling bit is the balancing of many, sometimes
conflicting needs: the client’s need to get a lot of information
and comments from stakeholders may conflict with the need for
simplicity and understandability on the side of the participants.
The common tendency of clients to make last minute changes may
conflict with our need to have sufficient time for testing and
adjusting the website!
The consultation hasn’t started yet, yet my article has
bumped gently into the word limit wall… I may continue another
time, with thoughts about sailing, harvesting and ancient rituals.