I'm not particularly tech-savvy. My phone isn't filled with apps (I don't have a smart phone), I'm not adept at @mentions, and to be honest, I don't really think in 140 characters comments.
Be that as it may, last month I launched my site, an undertaking that required me to interview and hire a designer and web developer,... without really 'speaking tech' myself.
I shared my tips on hiring people outside of your skillset but how do you manage a tech team or a big, months-long tech project when you don't entirely understand what's going on?
Good question. Here are four things I did to keep my tech project clicking along while googling every third word in our email exchanges.
1. Be honest about your skillset + don't be afraid to ask for patience and clarification
When you were interviewing applicants, I'm sure you were open about your lack of tech-savvy and hired someone who could meet you where you are. They might need the occasional reminder that you don't speak tech and you need a second, plain-English explanation.
Don't be afraid to ask for clarification or ask your team to explain something to you in a way you'd better understand - metaphor, etc. Also, don't be too hard on yourself. You're an expert at what you do, it just so happens that your skillset doesn't include coding or Twitter. Spending time to negative feelings and self doubt serves no one. As Einstein famously said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."
2. Make peace with misunderstandings
Mistakes and misunderstandings are bound to happen during a long term project with lots of moving parts and multiple team members - particularly when communication is taking place over email. It's hard to read a person's tone without constant emoticon use!
Don't dwell on these misunderstandings, instead identify the loophole that allowed them to happen and improve it.
3. Get off Email
Email communication is both exhausting and confusing. Enough said. Using a project management platform rather than email allows everyone can set due dates, be transparent about expectations and keep on the same page about workflow.
4. Give time and money to review BEFORE coding begins!
When you've never launched a website before you don't know what to expect, what's 'normal' and what's not so it's particularly important to include 'review' funds in your budget and build "review time" into the project timeline. When the moment between mock-up and coding is rushed - mistakes are made that will cost you extra time and money.
Everyone is going to try to rush this moment and it is your job to slow this moment down to:
Reflect about the website mock-up and do research on website best practices
Talk with an "outsider" (a tech professional, trusted friend, etc) and get objective feedback
Follow-up methodically with tech team on necessary changes BEFORE coding
Of course there will be some charged moments when working with a team of people who know more about a given topic than you.
Staying true to these tips and a bit of googling made working with a tech team 100% possible and an incredible learning experience.
Have you ever managed a tech team while not being particularly tech savvy? Share your best tips below!