Project manager (noun):
an organizational leader dedicated to the imposition of the order upon chaos and resolving a problem you didn’t know you had in a way you don’t understand. See also project wizard, magician, warlock.
As you start an ecommerce business, you’ll surely see things go wonky. Whether you’re building an online store from scratch or only developing a custom module to it, you alone and your committed developers will need some kind of wizard overseeing the development process and advising ways to advance with the project. And a project manager is just what you need.
In this article, we’ll review the ecommerce project managers responsibilities and explain how they contribute to your project release. But here’s one thing to remember right away: because PMs are involved in all five phases of a project’s life cycle, this role is not something to save up on while creating a development team.
Product Manager vs Project Manager: One and the Same Role?
Clients often use the terms product manager vs project manager interchangeably, while they imply two completely distinct roles.
A product manager delivers a company’s end-product that solves some customer problems and satisfies market demand. They sit at the intersection of various departments, participating in product design and feature development, devising sales campaigns, or developing a profit and loss (P&L) statement.
Meanwhile, a project manager is a more tactical, strategic role dealing with the process of the project estimation, planning, and implementation. They focus on meeting the scope, budget, and requirements of the project and keep up with the project schedule.
|defines product vision and creates an ecommerce product roadmap
|runs product development process
|focused on business objectives, market research, and customer experience using a product
|focused on the team, scope, budget, and timeline of the project
|In charge of the following deliverables: vision statement, user stories, product roadmap, pricing, positioning statement, other product documentation
|In charge of the following deliverables: project charter, WBS, time and costs breakdown, other project documentation
|Product lifecycle: introduction, growth in sales, product maturity, decline
|Project lifecycle: project initiation, planning, execution, control, closure
|Communicates product’s value and vision to stakeholders
|Communicates a project’s progress to stakeholders
Being quite different, the two roles are equally important for an ecommerce business and depend on the eCommerce project work of each other. For instance, while working with a client on ecommerce website development, a software development agency may receive all the information from a product manager who specifies the functional and non-functional requirements for an ecommerce website. In return, a project manager on our side puts together a plan with these specifications and oversees the execution of a project.
Ecommerce Project Manager Responsibilities
Like the Eye of Sauron in Lord of the Rings, a project manager controls the project lifecycle and task flow whose deadlines often burn no worse than Mordor. Essentially, people in this ecommerce role lead the project toward its goals, complying with deadlines, scopes, and pre-established budgets, addressing issues, and measuring risks.
An effective project manager has ten knowledge areas: integration, scope, time, cost, quality, human resources, communications, risk, procurement, and stakeholders. They all reveal themselves as different ecommerce project manager responsibilities at each phase of the project lifecycle.
Let us walk through e-commerce project manager responsibilities at each phase of the ecommerce project management process, namely initiation, planning, execution, control, and closure.
Initiation / Discovery Phase PM Responsibilities
- identifying the problem the project will solve and the objectives it should meet;
- defining the scope and basic deliverables of the project based on an RFP;
- evaluating the initial budget and potential benefits of the project before it moves forward;
- creating a Project Charter with the basic project description, start and finish dates, project type and status, and scope;
- developing relationships with the main project stakeholders and agreeing on the terms and conditions of future cooperation.
Planning Phase PM Responsibilities
- engaging with clients to develop website requirements and gathering human resources for the project;
- creating an ecommerce website development plan, with a WBS, budget, timeline, and workflow diagrams;
- setting the KPIs to measure the success of the project;
- defining the change management process and performing a project pre-mortem analysis (in which cases a project can fail and how a team can prevent it).
Execution Phase PM Responsibilities
- organizing a team’s workflow based on the chosen project management methodology (like Scrum, Waterfall, Kanban, etc.);
- creating a project backlog and briefing team members on their tasks completion and deadlines;
- addressing arising issues on time and holding regular status meetings with the development team;
- performing quality control and managing budget;
- reporting to the stakeholders on the completed deliverables, any project gaps, and/or changes.
Control Phase PM Responsibilities
- processing feedbacks from QA engineers and development teams and devising ways to improve work (also including code reviews in case of ecommerce website development);
- addressing force majeures and any other deviations from the initial plan;
- adjusting the scope, budget, and timeline;
- managing change requests from the stakeholders, evaluating its impact on the project, and overseeing its implementation.
Closure Phase PM Responsibilities
- documenting project closure and ensuring all project tasks and arrangements are settled;
- analyzing team performance and getting feedback from the stakeholders;
- defining who will maintain the project and making the transition of all working documentation.
Transition of a project between teams can be tough, so Elogic has decided to offer maintenance services even after releasing your project.
How to Become an Ecommerce Project Manager
Our head of eCommerce Project Management at Elogic, Oksana Yakovlieva, jokingly responds to the question on how to become an ecommerce project manager:
It takes much work and experience to become a PM. You can apply for a promotion after working as a QA or a PM assistant. Or after working in sales. Or after taking the role of a developer and a team lead. But you’ll be very naïve to think you can dive right into the role after graduating in humanities from a college and reading a single book on ecommerce project management.
Indeed, ecommerce program managers should have a rich set of soft and hard skills that come with time and a variety of projects. In our experience, a middle to senior ecommerce project manager should have:
- 5+ years of experience managing one or more medium to high complexity B2B or B2C business projects and/or programs;
- Knowledge of project initiation and planning, as well as all related documentation to be created in the process of project management;
- Knowledge of project management tools, like Trello, Slack, Gantt charts, etc.;
- Project Management Professional (PMP), Scrum Master qualification, or any other Project Management Institute certifications;
- Strong verbal and oral communication, as well as interpersonal and relationship building skills.
Why Hire a Project Manager?
E-store development projects may be complex, and a project manager is there to cut all the loose ends at all project phases. Taking care of the chaos and resolving pressing issues, an ecommerce project manager also brings a range of benefits for all stakeholders.
Benefits for DevOps:
- there will always be an industry expert to clear out the tasks and monitor the workflow;
- in case of emergency, all developers’ concerns can be addressed to a PM;
- a PM will take all administrative tasks off employees’ shoulders and keep up their productivity.
Benefits for you as a client:
- you will get constant reports on the project’s progress and execution;
- a PM will be your point of reference every time you wish to change a project deliverable or scope;
- you’ll stay on schedule and keep resources and budget under the initially established ones.
Benefits for the project success overall:
- a PM will facilitate communication and encourage consistent flow of information between teams to ensure all the tasks are up-to-date and the quality of work is improved;
- a team will achieve the desirable results aligned with the project and business objectives;
- potential risks of project failure will be mitigated.
Investing in a good ecommerce project manager means leading your project to success. Offering end-to-end project support, Elogic has many ecommerce industry professionals who will yield positive results, not excuses.