Whenever you launch and manage a website development project, you know that it’s going to take longer than expected. Even when you account for potential breakdowns and pad your delivery timeline with an extra month, there are always unexpected detours along the way.
Not including sick team members, you might run into the following issues that can put the project past schedule:
- The client wants their website to look great in Internet Explorer
- Prolonged debugging issues
- Framework errors are discovered late in the game
- The client changes their mind and it requires starting over
While there’s really no way to completely avoid all setbacks, there are ways you can prevent some of them, and significantly reduce your project’s lag time.
Here are four ways you can avoid the setbacks that are within your control:
1. Revisit roles and responsibilities
Who is the person creating the project’s specifications? Are their priorities aligned with that of the highest decision maker for the project? You need to make sure of this alignment before the project begins or you’ll see a lot of wasted time.
For example, Koby Bryan from Koby Consulting told MRC Productivity about the number one problem they face with development projects. He said, “We had a client that put an internal team member in charge of defining specs for a project – only to find out the team had different goals than the main decision maker. They were thinking in terms of ease of maintenance (make their jobs easier), he was thinking in terms of a new product for a compelling business need.”
It’s important to check every decision and specification against the goals and priorities of the person making the decisions for the project at the highest level. You may want to print out a physical checklist to review each time any significant changes are made. Always make sure the person providing the specs to the team is in alignment with the head decision maker.
2. Educate the client on “scope creep”
Clients don’t have a clue that changing their mind about something small can have a big impact on the scope of their project, thereby extending its time and cost.
While you can’t really give your clients a list of all the things that would create a significant change in scope, you can have a conversation with them prior to starting the project in order to mitigate disappointment and frustration.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to find an example you can share with your client about how a small change from a past project impacted the development process. You don’t have to get too technical, but share enough with them so that they understand on a basic level. Then, let them know you’re committed to informing them anytime a requested change carries the potential to extend the delivery time or cost.
When a client is upset about a change in scope pushing out a project, this creates pressure on the development team to work faster to make up for it. But when both the team and the client support the changes, it won’t have a negative effect on the project.
Clients are less likely to become upset when they know ahead of time that their changes might require more time and money. Don’t wait until they request a change to tell them how changes might impact the project.
3. Maintain your virtual collaboration tools
When cellphones first became popular, almost everyone had dropped calls. “Hello? Are you there? Hello?” Today, that seems to be the norm for video conferencing. Call quality can be unpredictable, and when you rely on the technology for collaboration, it can knock you off schedule.
If any part of your development team works remotely, you rely on virtual collaboration tools to keep the project running smoothly. Nobody wants to spend a whole day trying to find a workaround when their video conferencing software stops working–yet, there’s no other choice when you can’t figure out what’s wrong.
Instead of chasing Band-Aid solutions for your software that aren’t working, using a service like Vyopta can help you diagnose the reason you’re experiencing bad call quality and provide solutions. You simply don’t have time to reinvent the wheel.
4. Clarify communication between your team and the client
Website development projects can be unpredictable at times, and although there is no overall solution to make them run smoothly all the time, anything you do to improve communication between your team and the client will help immensely.
Because miscommunication is usually at the heart of so many breakdowns experienced during the development process, it always helps to be as clear as possible from the start. Of course, clients will always request changes as the project moves along, and that’s great—it means they’re inspired and want to make the project better. But those changes don’t have to slow down your project.
Communication is the only way to keep your development projects moving forward and is at the heart of these tips. Follow them and you’ll see how communication has the power to transform your meandering project into a heat-seeking missile that always hits the target.