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3 Ways to Survive the Project Management Balancing Act

Eric Rickert Digital Project Manager, PMP
#Industry Insights
Published on February 1, 2017

We look at three things that project managers need to do to maintain the correct balance during web design, development, and marketing projects.


On any given day at WSOL, we’re usually in the midst of several web design, development, and marketing projects, with our different team members working on a wide variety of tasks, such as user experience design, CMS migration, or inbound marketing strategy. With so much activity going on, it can be hard to keep everything straight, but as a project manager, I get to stand in the middle of it all and do my best to direct traffic.

Acting as the middle man for all of this work can be challenging, and to be successful, a project manager often needs to perform a balancing act between multiple competing groups and objectives. But while this can be tricky, it can result in immense satisfaction for everyone when it’s done right. Let’s look at three ways project managers can perform this successful balancing act:

1. Balancing Timelines

For any given project, a project manager can expect that the client will want the work done as quickly as possible, while the internal team will want to have more time to make sure everything is completed correctly. It’s our job to find a space in the middle where everyone is happy while remaining realistic about what is possible.

In order to find this ideal middle ground, it’s best to look at what is feasible within the project’s timeline based on its budget. If the budget will only allow for a certain number of hours of work, determining how to allocate the team’s work so that everything will get done within the time allotted will be key to making sure everyone is happy.

Conversely, it’s also important to look at what is feasible within the project’s budget based on the timeline. Making sure the client understands what can actually be accomplished within the specified timeline without exceeding the budget will set expectations and ensure that everyone is on the same page about what work will be done and when it will be completed.

2. Balancing Relationships

Since project managers act as the “man in the middle,” communicating with both the client and their internal team, it’s important to build strong relationships with all parties and establish trust. Make sure everyone knows that you are doing what’s best for the project while still making them feel like their needs and concerns are being addressed.

This can be a tricky balance to maintain, but doing so is incredibly important, and the time invested establishing this trust pays dividends when time gets tight or if the project encounters any unforeseen problems. If you’ve built strong relationships, you’ll be able to keep everyone working together during difficult times, rather than having people at odds with each other.

3. Balancing Wants and Needs

It would be great if we could include everything that everyone wants in a project while staying within its budget and timeline, but this usually just isn’t possible. It’s a project manager’s job to determine the minimum viable product based on the project’s constraints and then ensure that it gets completed.

For project managers, separating wants from needs is an important skill. Often, clients may request something without really understanding what they’re asking for and what it will take to accomplish it. It’s important to be able to understand which of these requests are essential to the project, as well as what is actually doable, and then to make sure that everyone understands why these choices were made. By managing these expectations, project managers can make sure that everyone will be satisfied with the end results.

Walking the Tightrope

As you can see, project managers need to be expert acrobats, balancing multiple factors and relationships. While it’s hard to keep everybody happy, that’s basically the project manager’s job, and by following the tips above, you’ll be able to maintain that balance and complete projects to everyone’s satisfaction.

Do you want to know more about how WSOL can manage your web development or online marketing project? Please contact us for more information. Do you have any project management tips of your own? Please share them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Image Credit: Wonderland Walker 2 by kevint3141 (CC BY 2.0), via Wikimedia Commons