"It’s About Letting the User Speak"

In this interview, Erik Cane discusses some of the daily opportunities and rewards that make up his role at projekt202.

projekt202 Program Manager Erik Cane
projekt202 Program Manager Erik Cane

Can you give us a brief overview of what you do as a Program Manager?

I get the pleasure of managing projects of varying sizes, with varying clients and varying disciplines.

Can you walk us through a typical day for you?

Sure. I'd classify it in one of two ways. One, there's my plan tasks. I'll typically have a punch list from day to day that I need to try and accomplish, those are the plan items, again, that might be a call with a stakeholder, working on a status report, syncing up with a particular designer or developer. Those are kind of the plans tasks I work through on a day-to-day basis.

I also have unplanned tasks. With projects, they don't always seem to go exactly as planned, it's funny how that works.

In that case, maybe there's a project risk, maybe there's some issue with an environment that's being down, needing to coordinate with some sort of group to help to resolve that issue. Those are some of the items you try to plan for and mitigate as much as possible, but sometimes things just happen and you have to react to it.

What are some things that get you really excited about coming to projekt202?

For me, it's the interactions that I have with the varying groups that I'm working with, whether that's internal to projekt202 or even with the clients that I'm working with. Again, they're different groups, different backgrounds, different clients in areas of maturity that they all have. Over time, with all those interactions and experiences and work together, it helps tell a story. Looking back on our projects and accomplishments, that's pretty cool to reflect on.

Can you tell us about a recent project success?

We have one client in the health care space where we're working on a mobile application. We were doing some UX design and research for that particular client, and we were at a stage where we'd gone through numerous iterations on designs over several weeks, going through that process week by week, working with the client for making tweaks and updates.

It comes to a point where we're sort of doing some user validation, getting a prototype in front of users, and allowing them to give some feedback to us. We'd give them some tasks and, based on those tasks, they'd give us some feedback. We'd make some tweaks to the app, and we iterate on those over the course of coming days.

At the close of that last day, one of our key stakeholders on the project said that it seemed like we were able to accomplish so much over those couple of days. Seeing his thought process and having him articulate that to us, it was really cool to hear that from his perspective.

It was more about getting those designs and prototypes in front of users and getting their feedback, and that user feedback being a lot more important than the traditional view of, say, "What's my perspective or my opinion on how a particular design element should look?"

At the end of the day, it’s about letting the user speak. Realizing that the client understood and appreciated that was, I thought, pretty powerful.

Through your work at projekt202, how are you helping companies and their customers interact better with technology?

A similar client project was around contextual experiences, creating an app that would better “know” the customers, that almost anticipated what their next steps would be, where they were going to be in the next month or two months, and so on.

I think the benefit of that is that it gives users more at stake in that application or in that technology. It gives them more of a connection to it. With that, you get a deeper connection with that brand of company that you're working with.

What's been your favorite experience while working at projekt202?

To me, it's the challenge. It's the day-to-day challenge of working with extremely exceptional people and exceptionally gifted craftspeople. That helps push me to do better work.

As a Program Manager, I get a lot of my joy and excitement from watching them do exceptional work.

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