Client-side Point of View – Interview with Luke Revill, CPA Australia
What’s your day job?
Senior Project Manager at CPA Australia.
How did you get started in digital?
As a student studying at Adelaide University, I developed and managed an online apparel retail business in the late 1990s into the early 2000s – The Sureshot Apparel. The business concept was unique for its time. I worked together with traditional retailers to merchandise and retail their surplus stock online and distribute to an international customer base. The concept won the Premier’s Enterprise Scholarship and a place in Adelaide University’s business incubator program. I am highly appreciative of the opportunity and support I received from this program; without it I never would have got started in Digital.
What’s your current favourite book, website, blog or source of inspiration
Mashable is definitely on the list and also TED. I was inspired by Malcolm Gladwell’s first book, The Tipping Point in the early part of my career. And ‘Hollywood Secrets of Project Management Success’ by James Persee, which compares IT project management with the film industry, is a very interesting read.
What type of projects do you work on – how long do they run?
Since 2005 I have been involved various enterprise digital projects, covering areas such as eCommerce, web, mobile, email marketing, and CMS. More recent projects have focused on eCommerce and enterprise content management system implementations. Larger digital programs of work can span over 12 months in duration, but on the whole most of the projects I’ve managed run from between 6 and 12 months.
What are the particular challenges you face in managing digital services projects internally? Is there are broader requirement to integrate your projects with the broader marketing activities?
There is always a tension between BAU priorities and project work. This is something which needs to be managed closely, but is typical of all projects, not just digital projects. I think some of the main challenges project managers face is in articulating the ROI on a digital project. Often digital projects don’t fit the traditional model and many of the delivered benefits are not always financial.
Do you outsource or use contractors?
Yes, both. As a project manager you are reliant on your resources and bringing them together to work as a single project team. Depending on circumstances, whether they be technical challenges, environmental or budgetary, you need to engage suitable resources and often these resources cannot be found internally, which means going to market for either contractors or outsourcing significant delivery components to vendors.
What particular skills set, process or type of person do you look for in a digital services provider?
When engaging an external service provider I am looking for them to be able to deliver additional skills and capabilities into the client organisation. On the whole I look for the technical skills and capability, real world examples of similar project implementations, organisational reach back, enterprise certifications, client references and my experience working with the supplier in the past. But overwhelmingly I’m looking for someone who can work collaboratively as part of a hybrid team.
What’s your biggest bugbear in dealing with a digital agency?
My biggest irritation at the moment, and this isn’t just with agencies, is the belief that the Agile methodology is a silver bullet for all business and organisation problems. I’m not criticising Agile as a methodology, but I am saying it is not suitable for every single project. Agile needs to be embraced by the organisation as well as the project team. Most importantly, it should be implemented correctly according to the framework. Agile definitely does not mean no documentation.
Agile or waterfall?
Both. All depends on the context, environment and project goals. I find the Waterfall works better for large scale enterprise system implementations, and then an Agile approach for optimisation, enhancements and break fix once the new site or system is implemented.
What tools do you use internally to manage time and job tasks?
Various tools for different tasks, Microsoft Project and Project Server for project planning and tracking tasks and schedule, JIRA for Agile sprint management, enhancements and bug tracking, MTM for test case management and execution.
How do you keep hours and costs on or under budget? How do you maintain profitability on each and every project? Is it a result of project management processes, good budgeting, or initial scoping?
I think all three of those elements come into play. On-going diligence and management is necessary, and it is definitively important to develop robust initial estimates and refine these estimations using a combination of work break down structure, expert and SME input, and where ever possible formal estimation driven by historical data from similar projects.