For a publisher, the first and potentially most difficult step toward project management is to identify an influential role that spans organizations. Only then can someone coordinate the multitude of activities required for Web development, content management and other technology-intensive projects. Given the right person, this role provides an opportunity to break down inherent cultural differences and spread knowledge throughout that organization.
The initial focus of project management should not be to implement technology, but to guide process redefinition. This entails a sometimes excruciating effort to uncover and negotiate issue resolution among groups that might not be receptive to change, or that might have trouble maintaining a consistent vision of the business objectives that drive the need for change. In the short-term, some process issues may need manual workarounds until long-term answers can be found.
While enticing, the latest technology isn't necessarily a good short-term solution. Instead, publishers should keep the big picture in mind and develop an incremental approach that will get them there. In many cases, it's better to stick with manual processes until experimentation results in something one worth spending money to automate. Process redefinition will always take longer, be more complex and less predictable than expected. In fact, process redefinition itself is best considered a process that will never be finished. To that end, processes should be standardized enough to enable efficiency, but they should also be malleable enough to accommodate business models that are still (and will always be) in flux.
In addition to project management and process redefinition, publishers must address the organizational impacts the Web imposes. Competing and paying attention to the bottom line demand technologies that manage content across an organization and automate content re-use for multiple products. While the technology to do this is complicated, figuring out how to motivate individuals to support the projects and processes is even more so. Most publishers comprise groups that have historically been rewarded for managing the costs and increasing the revenue for a specific set of products; they do not care whether other groups benefit from their efforts. Developing systems to support new products might temporarily or permanently impact the expense and schedules of existing, efficient processes. Publishers must find ways to reward staff for effective content management and cross-departmental cooperation.