The MSU Recycling Website Design was my first oportunity to put what I had learned in AL242, the Project Management course taught by Ben Lauren. Before the start of this course, I had a very cursory understanding of project management, and I assumed it was a UX term for being the office manager. Yes, project management is managing people, relationships, day-to-day tasks, and communication with the client, but it is also more specialized then being the office hall monitor. What makes project managers unique is that they are planning the life cycle of a project. They do this by creating the scope, scheduling and the project timeline, budget and labor, and the project outcome and deliverables. To boil it down to an understatement, project managers get things completed, and serve the role in the business world of motivating and focusing the project. With these core concepts in mind, I was excited that the class was going to be putting these ideas and strategies to practice with actual clients, and a bonus outcome of hopefully helping our clients our with a problem or something they wanted to improve.
Client Meeting and Initial Scope
My group of three, Emily Schepp, Libby Hoffman, and myself, were paired with the MSU Recycling Center, who was looking for assistance with their webpage. Our client, Kayla Lansiti, was new to her position with MSU Recycling, and right away I could tell that there was an odd office structure of the Center. The Recycling Center was located in the same building as Be Spartan Green, MSU Sustainability, MSU Surplus Store, and the public drop off. We held our kick-off meeting with Kayla on February 12th, and established that Kayla was looking to improve her website. The student who was normally tasked with updating the site had just graduated, and Kayla was looking to make changes and improvements to the website to improve usability, and identify the goal of the website. Specifically, she didn’t know what to change and needed data to assist her with getting her bosses onboard with her ideas of improvement. The site, recycle.msu.edu, was made by Kayla’s boss Chris Jolly, and I got the sense that he didn’t have time to look into updating or changing the site, due to other demands. So in the kick off meeting we suggested to our client that we were going to:
Going with an Agile stategy allowed us to make adjustments to the project scope with our client, and refine our scope when time started running out of us. We adjusted our survey plan from testing it out on a small focus group, to developing it for future use by the Recycling Center. We didn’t have to scale back on everything and were able to reach our primary project goals. One important key to our recommendations was identifying the key audience and purpose of the site, which was to assist people in recycling and informing them how they could recycle at MSU. Also, the group identified redundant efforts with the other departments with MSU Sustainability. We recommended that they change their focus to collaborate more with Be Spartan Green, without knowing that Kayla was already considering that adjustment and only needed the data to support it. The site re-design and layouts turned out well, and I was pleased with our deliverables. Specifically the site map and layout that I made, this being the first time I had ever made products like these. The client was satisfied and seemed pleased with the outcomes of the project, and informed us that she was going to implement some of our reccomendations.
This project allowed us to make mistakes, and still be under the shroud of the acidemic environment. About half way through the project, our client informed us that she was changing offices, and the MSU Recycling Center might be changing to a different department. This didn’t have a great deal of change on our project, and we were able to continue without losing our client. My primary take away is the importance of getting a dispersed team that is working on any numeber of different project to focus onto the key issue at hand. The schedule that was developed in the early stages of the proejct held up for a while but small things kept impacting it and before we knew it we were two weeks out with a bunch of unorganized deliverables and a report that was lacking focus. The last two weeks up to the presentation, we had to abandon our normal workflow and adapt to the situation. We did so by adding extra meeting times, and setting specific goals for those meeting, and embracing more phone calls and video chats to discuss products that just needed to get done. The group encountered stategic disagreements, that would slow down a meeting, but ultimately produced a more thoughtfull and valuable deliverable to the client.
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