Meet Beacon's Project Management Team: Here's How They Help to Get the Job Done

By Josh Barrer | Published July 17, 2020 | Categories: Beacon News , Higher Education

Let's be honest. Sometimes, getting things done is difficult.

It's easy to get overwhelmed or thrown off track. And not just just big projects. Something as seemingly simple as planning a dinner for a group of friends can be insurmountable when you have to juggle everyone's different schedules and preferences. 

So taking on something truly challenging - like redesigning and relaunching a college or university website to be more user friendly, mobile responsive, and attractive to new students - is pretty daunting.

In fact, daunting doesn't even begin to cover it, especially during this unconventional time, when we are navigating new ways of working and facing schedules and circumstances that can change daily. Keeping a project on track is tougher than ever. 

Fortunately, there's a secret weapon to help complete tasks big and small, to help manage the details and schedules and do whatever is needed to bring it all to a close: project managers.  People joining hands

Here at Beacon, we're pretty lucky: our project management team is the best in the business. The way they help to manage the details and make plans to keep us on track isn't just helpful, it's essential.

So let's hear from a few members of the team to find out how they keep this machine running everyday, and how they can help you, too.

A Foundation for a Successful Project

So what exactly does a project manager do?

Senior project manager Deb Paylor explains: "All projects, whether a small website update or a full Higher Ed website redesign, involve a list of integrated tasks. It is important to have a plan for when each task will be executed and by whom. I find that it is helpful to focus on the current tasks, but with an eye on what is just ahead so that everyone knows what to expect."

So for a project like redesigning a university website, Deb or another member of the team would put together key documentation related to a project's scope and goals, and a plan estimating the time needed to get the project - and all the smaller tasks that comprise it - done. Then she marshals the resources needed and works tirelessly to keep the project on track and more importantly, on budget.

"In order to keep things moving forward, communication is key," she explains. "It builds trust with the client, as well as with the internal project team and provides a foundation for a successful project."

The Human Element 

Keeping track of information and effectively sharing it is another must according to project manager Laura Ayala. "Direction, requests, questions, and notes are delivered over various outlets and a project manager’s responsibility is to wrangle that information concisely and cohesively for each party involved," she says. "We are note distillers and message polishers and we aim to do it all in a timely and organized manner."

Team meeting over coffeeBut there's another vital element of successful project management, too. "I think a commonly overlooked aspect is the human element of a project. A key to a project manager’s success is the ability to listen to everyone involved and determine what the client needs, what the team needs, and how to most effectively put those pieces together to create something everyone is proud of." 

That ability to listen, learn, and communicate, exemplified by Laura and all of Beacon's project managers, is an essential ingredient in bringing every project to an exemplary completion.   

The Best Possible Work

Speaking of ingredients, remember earlier when we talked about planning a dinner? Well, credit where it's due, that example came from project manager Sarah Strickler. In fact, for Sarah, the challenge of planning a dinner that pleases everyone is a good analogy for her work.

People gathered around table for a meal.

"Project management is a lot like figuring out where and when a diverse group of family and/or friends with various tastes would like to eat. The 'project manager' of the social group would take note of any member’s dietary preferences and/or restrictions, cost concerns, and time available in their schedule."

All of those tasks, Sarah explains, are comparable to the day to day challenges faced by a project manager. Keeping track of preferences and restrictions, for example, is similar to tracking a team's skills and noting who is best for each task, while wrangling cost concerns and schedules is similar to determining the hours needed to complete a project while staying within the scope of the work and its budget.

"Successful project management ensures that everyone involved with a project has the materials, time, and information required to fulfill their particular tasks," she says. "The project manager allows the members of their team to create their best possible work since they can focus on the specific tasks they do best."

A Partner - Not A Vendor

At Beacon, our Project Management Office, or PMO, is central to all of our work and processes. It provides a structured approach to everything we take on, and allows the project management team to serve as liaisons between our clients and our wide range of talented resources that are on each project.  Project Managers really have the toughest job as they are both internally and externally-facing.  That is, they work closely with their clients to deliver on their goals, while also organizing all the necessary resources effectively to meet target dates and stay within budget.  You could go as far as saying that a good Project Manager is the key to success.

"The best thing to hear at the project finish is that your team is recognized not just as vendor, but as a partner," says project manager Darin Humbard. Darin has lead projects for many different clients, including higher education institutions like Hawai'i Pacific University, Eastern Connecticut University, Emory Healthcare, and many more. 

Team fist bumping"Each client was unique, but they all had the best interests of their students and prospective students at heart. And all of these clients have worked with Beacon for several years and they keep coming back because they know they will get our best effort toward their success. I think that is the difference with the project teams here. They really care."

We Can Help You Complete Your Project

So no matter the size of your project or how daunting it may seem, Beacon's project management team makes it manageable and successful. That's what they do!  They carefully plan the journey and then walk you from that first kickoff meeting all the way to the post-launch celebration. 

Contact us today to find out how we can help.

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