One of the reasons why our projects at Humix are successfully completed is because we work in a tandem between one or more consultants and a UX Project Manager/Strategists. On Project Manager Day, we would therefore like to put these pacesetters in the spotlight.
How much do our UX project managers mean to us UX consultants?
If you ask us consultants what their approach is towards us, it basically revolves around these 3 key words: empower, challenge & protect.
The project manager is in charge and the consultant executes… That’s pretty much the image many have, but it doesn’t feel that way to us. Our PMs assume that the consultant ‘owns the project’ and therefore has the freedom to help determine the approach. Of course, we can always turn to the PM for good advice and adjustments, but they do give us the freedom to tackle a project in a way that suits us. Knowing they trust us in this creates self-confidence among the consultants. If someone is constantly looking over your shoulder, you start to doubt whether you are doing it right.
They are also very useful in terms of content. Although they each have several years of experience, they themselves admit that this does not necessarily mean they know everything. On the contrary, they are always open to our own ideas. They often have tips on how to get these ideas across to our customers. Communication is key and they are good at it.
PMs challenge our approach to UX and the way we tackle the challenges we face. But they also teach us that it is okay to challenge the customer. We even must challenge them and insist on involving users in the project. As a consultant, you sometimes don’t know how far you can go, and then it is useful to have a PM who can emphasise that a customer hires us to be challenged, even if it is sometimes annoying for them. After all, in UX, customer is king, but user is emperor. In the end, it will be the customer who decides, it is their product after all, but the more they are open to listening to us and especially the users, the better their product will do :-)
Being given more responsibility ourselves in our projects does not mean that we bear full responsibility alone. PMs are therefore there to protect us, against excessive demands from customers or from development, against scope creep etc. They help deliver the project according to budget and expectation so that we can focus on delivering. They also help ensure that we can be proud of our work, even if there is not enough budget to go all the way.
A fourth term could be added to this: acknowledgement. Working in a rather creative sector, many consultants suffer from impostor syndrome: that we do not actually have sufficient skills to do our job. Therefore, it can be gratifying at critical moments to receive confirmation that our hard work is really appreciated. That acknowledgement from a PM at a moment of doubt can be really gratifying and provide a healthy dose of motivation.
We are ready for this way of working to continue to lead to successful projects in the future!