I’ve been talking about effectively managing an insurance-related Web development project. Again, in a typical insurance project, there are lots of stakeholders.

Typically there is the carrier, the distributor, the marketing company, possibly a third party administrator, and the insurance technology developer. Within the carrier there are multiple stakeholders as well, including marketing, operations, finance, security, and IT.

(By the way, in a really good project, within the carrier, marketing should own the project — not IT. After all, insurance Web sites are first and foremost marketing projects.)

Next week we’ll be talking about how to make sure you are communicating effectively. But right now let’s talk about setting up efficient communications. My preference is to use a collaborative tool such as an extranet and group e-mails, so that mission critical items are shared and EVERYONE on the team gets a copy of ALL information. You also want to have a weekly conference call, so everyone is on the same page. You also want to have a password-protected development site so all interested parties can watch the project progress.

Each of the stakeholders needs to have a primary project manager. Nothing should happen concerning the project without their knowledge. Project managers should make ALL the assignments for deliverables and coordinate ALL follow-up activities. And, they should be the main contact between the developers and other stakeholders. An experienced project manager can save a lot of time and confusion.

This kind of lays out the who, the how, and the why for a Web development project. It’s really important to have someone with experience working for you. You can save yourself a tremendous amount of time and money — not to mention egg on your face — by using a Web development company that has “been there and done that.” It’s interesting to note that I have started seeing more independent consultants managing projects for the carriers. If you think about it, there’s a lot of upside to that strategy — and very little downside.

Next, we’ll take a look at Enforcing Effective Communications.

A little mesquite-charcoal grilled steak anyone?!?!