2 min read


This week, we're redesigning the happycog.com. Yes, this week: everything will be built from the ground up. New IA, new design, new copy, new code. It's all new, and it's all being done in 5 days. 

It's a lot of work. It's also a lot of fun. We're on day four of a five-day project, and so much has happened. I feel as though I have learned a lot, because I'm seeing the activity on a project that would typically take us six months or more in five work days. I'm siting in a conference room with my amazing coworkers who are designing and building the site, so I have the benefit of hearing and knowing the full spectrum of thoughts going into every detail. For me, that is invaluable. Plus. I've been able to jump in and help out. It's been fun to apply some of my day-to-day PM experience, but  I've also learned a lot about how projects can work, how they should work, and what can always prove to be an issue. Here's a quick breakdown of what I've taken in so far:

I'm like a broken record. I think all I ever write about is how communications are the most important aspect to a project. It's true, and I found that out within the first two days of this week. Our first day was full of brainstorming. That led right into working. That meant that everyone was eager to do as much as possible. It also meant that people were having conversations without the rest of the group, and that not everyone knew what was happening all the time. So, we had to adjust the way we were working and put a good communication plan into place. We needed regular check-ins and decided on this schedule: 10am, noon, 2pm and 4pm. A quick review of what everyone is working on at the moment, and any issues that needed to be addressed. That's helped us immensely.

Plans Change. Adapt.
Project plans almost never play out the way you expect. They certainly don't on a short, high pressure project, but it's good to have a high level list of things that need to be done and a target day/time. We're working from a list with that kind of detail. I have found that it's best to keep track of who's doing what, when you need things done, and how they're getting done. New tasks will come up and requirements might change, but knowing what can/cannot be done in a week is critical. A high-level list will help in setting or maintaining that expectation.

Document Everything.
We're using Basecamp To Dos and writeboards like bosses. Everything is there; if it isn't, it probably didn't happen. It's nice to know that one-off conversations are turning into "I'll add a To Do for that." Also, I made one whiteboard a status board that lists the goals for the day, our check in times, issues, and a bulleted status list for everyone on the project. We reviewed that list at every check in. It works well to show how much progress is made.

Don't Be Bashful.
Someone in the room has to be listening to what's going on, making sure that there are no conflicting details, or questions unanswered. I have felt that a lot of my job this week has been to resolve issues by asking question about the tasks (and following-up) and making sure conversations are happening.

Have Fun.
Yes, work is serious and you'll be under pressure. But have fun. Honestly, that has been the best part of this week. The crew I work with…they're awesome. And very funny.

So that's it. Tomorrow is launch day. Another day of lessons learned. I'm excited. Also, ready for a celebratory beer with all my buddies.