In the latest instalment of NetConstruct’s ‘Introducing’ series, we sat down with Project Manager Leanne, to chat all things NC, her background, experience and expertise. An integral member to the business, Leanne uses her multi-tasking, project management and communication skills to take web projects from kick-off to launch. Read on to find out more…
What is your background?
I’ve been at NetConstruct now for about 10 months but before joining here, I worked in software development and technology for quite a long time, but prior to that, trained as a graphic designer. I actually began my working life as a sales advisor in the insurance industry. I’m pretty chatty so sales suited me well. I lived in Spain for a while, and once I returned to the UK, I worked as a recruitment consultant which put me in contact with a web consultancy company. Instead of me recruiting for them, they recruited me! That’s where my interest grew for all things web development.
These job roles led me into my present role at NetConstruct, which is a mixture of all the skills I’ve learnt combined into one. I always knew I wanted to be within this industry, but I soon figured out what I was good at and Client Services fits me well. It still allows me to be creative, but just in a different way.
Outside of work, I’m a mother of two teenage boys which has made multitasking a fundamental part of my life. More of a survival technique than a skill!
What is your role in the business?
As a project manager, my role is to take a web project from concept, to map and resource the solution in its entirety. So, from kick-off to delivery with all the unknowns in between, I collaboratively work with a dedicated project team to manage and mitigate the risks that arise in the process.
I'm also responsible for producing and maintaining project plans, schedules and functional specifications so the production team can work with ease while communicating with clients and setting their expectations too. That’s essentially my role. I’m one cog in the NetConstruct wheel, without all the other elements and departments, projects wouldn’t come together the way they do.
What value do you and your team offer clients?
We all have something to add and bring unique skills to every project because we all tackle it together. I think a common misconception when creating a website is that it’s very generic, but it’s not. Every single one is individual; every client is unique and comes with their own complexities. Our experience within the team means we can treat every project as unique and tackle it with this in mind.
The procedures we’ve recently put in place have really allowed us to work better as a team and allow us to deliver exactly what we say we’ll deliver to our clients. There are a lot of companies out there that wouldn't necessarily take the time to improve their processes. For example, they might quote a price much lower for a high value project, but drip feed the additional cost in later. Whereas here, we work hard to ensure everything is upfront and transparent. I think transparency, honesty and collaborative working are the key factors we can bring our clients.
What do you enjoy about your job?
Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m quite chatty! My job allows me to communicate with every department and I love that. Having that communication, building relationships with people in different industries that I wouldn't normally have the opportunity to meet, I really enjoy it.
The best part of the job, and project management in general, is the fact you have to very carefully manage being proactive and reactive. Doing this constantly means you come to work and it's five o'clock before you know it! It's gone in a blink. Also, everyone is always so keen to assist - it's such a friendly team. And as a Group, they’re also eager to offer any training, whether you just want to brush up your skills or do something more, there’s no issue with that.
What have you found challenging?
I think for me, the biggest hurdle is coming from a small team. There’s a lot of resource here and there is external resource that we use as well. Scheduling is one of the biggest challenges, but you learn to get to grips with this over time. Looking at our system, what we’ve got to work with, trying to work out what can be moved, who can be moved and what skill set they have, to ensure everything can be done when it needs to be. That’s evolved over time as I’ve got to know individual members of each team. There’s so much to learn and every day is different, but I enjoy what I do and I haven’t had many jobs where I’ve been able to say that.
What is the number one piece of advice you would give a client starting a new web project?
Know your brief. Because, invariably, things change, new priorities emerge and this can affect the overarching plan. A great brief defines, determines and sets realistic expectations for ourselves and our clients from the start. It allows us to build a strong foundation from a place of trust and transparency that will help us to continue to provide the best possible service.
What are the most common website challenges our clients face today?
Understanding what their visitors need and making sure that doesn’t conflict with who they are as a company. It’s important to try and make those two factors work together. I also think UX is still something that’s not seen as an absolute must-have but, it can’t be ignored! A lot of companies do tend to overlook it thinking it all comes naturally but you really have to understand what kind of personas are going to be coming to your site and cater for them. Getting more people to come to your site while still being exactly who you want to be as a business is a big challenge. Our client, Circuit, is a great example of this. They appeal to a certain niche and encourage students to use their laundrette service. The site needed to be designed in such a way that it would appeal directly to this audience - it needed to have a bit of an edge to make laundry services exciting!