Lots of helpful tips and tricks, tons of best practices, plenty of great advice on how to prevent missed deadlines on your web projects. And yet: all these “how to's” are targeting project managers, team leaders and, overall, web development teams.
But what about you, the client?
What can you do to help the teams working on your web projects avoid missing deadlines? What best practices should you adopt in order to streamline the development process?
And what bad client habits should you break to avoid scope creep and, implicitly, delaying your own project?
Now that we've gone through all your possible questions and dilemmas as a client regarding the “deadline issue”, let's dig for some answers, too.
In this respect, here are the 6 best practices that you should stick to when working with a web development team, to ensure that they'll meet their deadline:
1. Clearly Articulate all Your Project Requirements — Ideas, Vision, Expectations
Do speak now or forever hold your peace!
In other words: share your detailed specifications, your requirements, even just your glimpses of ideas in a very early phase of your project's development life-cycle. This way, you'll empower your contacted team to come up with an accurate project estimate.
And thus, to ensure that they'll meet the deadline you will have agreed upon.
What's your vision for the project? What do you expect your software product to do? What features should it incorporate? What are your predictions in terms of website traffic?
Be sure to express all your requirements as accurately as possible, whether under the form of:
- drawings on a sheet of paper
- detailed specifications
- verbal explanations
2. Over the Budget? Discuss Prioritization of the Key Features
Another best practice to prevent missed deadlines on your web projects, as a client, is to prioritize specific tasks included in the project.
And this practice gets particularly helpful when you find yourself budget-constrained.
What are the essential features and functionalities that your website/application should have? Identify them, then discuss prioritizing those specific implementations with the development team.
This way you:
- stay on budget
- (still) meet the deadline
- set some realistic expectations
- draft an updated roadmap for your development team to follow
Tip: are you familiar with the MVP (minimum viable product) philosophy?
3. Give Them Timely Access to Materials They Need to Move Forward
More often than not, it's clients' failure to carry out their own parts of the projects (on time) that lead to significant delays in the development process.
And forgetting/overlooking/refusing/being out of reach to give your development team timely access to those materials that are crucial for their work is one such example.
I'm talking here about materials such as:
- project-specific content
- brand fonts
… and other resources they might need to advance in their work.
Which leads us to another best practice that clients (too) often fail to follow:
4. Be Reachable: Stay Active on Communication Channels
It's crucial that you be available on (all) communication channels. The team of web developers working on your project might need:
- your approval on certain tasks that they will have completed before they can focus on the next development phases
- your input to the next-in-line deliverable
- your decision regarding a multi-solution challenge they're facing
So, you do get the point: the more difficult it'll be for them to reach you, the higher are the chances that they miss their deadline.
5. Ask Your Questions to Prevent Missing Deadlines on Your Web Projects
Do dare to ask the project manager, the customer service manager or team lead all your questions. Whether technical or not.
For you do not need to be a Drupal, Magento, WordPress, React, Laravel, Angular or any other technology expert. Yet, you must ask your development team any inquiries that you might have regarding the used tools and platforms.
... regarding their specific procedures, internal processes and, overall, their particular approach to project management.
Ask your questions and allow them to shed light on any “blurriness” that you might be facing. Otherwise, confusions will only lead to last minute changes of scope and missed deadlines.
6. Set Realistic Deadlines to Accommodate Your Last-Minute Requirements, Too
Are there any last minute changes, unplanned requirements or off-the-plan tasks that you need to integrate into your project's development cycle?
Talk about them with the project manager and maybe you'll reach an agreement to add a few more developers to your project.
And also, keep in mind to set a realistic deadline to accommodate all these emergencies, as well.
What's a Scope Creep More Precisely?
Something that many clients are guilty of, I must say.
It comes down to:
Changing the scope of a project.
And there are multiple causes for this:
- urgent, last-minute requests coming from the client, that imply high volumes of extra work
- poor scheduling
- poor budgeting
- lack of cooperation
The END! These are the 5 most effective best practices to adopt, as a client, in order to prevent missed deadlines on your web projects.