According to Wrike, only 39% of all projects are delivered on time, on budget, and with the required features and functions, while 43% are late, over budget, or with fewer features and functions than required. The rest of the projects completely fail, which means they’re cancelled.
If you’re running a service-based company, explaining to the client that their product is not yet finished can be pretty uncomfortable, especially if you went over budget.
You can find more information on how some of the best web design companies provide their services in a timely manner, but here are some beginner steps you should take to keep your web development projects on schedule.
1. Plan First
The first thing you should do when a client approaches you with an idea is to create a plan.
Planning a schedule is essential in web development. When you outline the scope of the project at its onset, you’re able to pinpoint and avoid roadblocks that would cause delays later on. You should also be able to assess the project better and set a realistic deadline.
This is crucial to establishing a trusting relationship with clear expectations on the client’s end.
Now, there are a lot of ways you can plan your project. Web development companies often use project management frameworks, such as Scrum and Kanban, which is why we’ve decided to explain how these two work.
Scrum is likely the most popular management framework web development companies use for project management.
Each project is divided into sprints. Sprints are short development cycles that usually last up to 4 weeks. Before the development process starts, the development team, scrum master, and the product owner work together to define sprint goals.
Each team has a daily scrum, which is basically a meeting that enables people to synchronize their work and reach their sprint goals.
Using Scrum enables you to increase your chances of delivering a product that fully satisfies the customer in a shorter amount of time than using more traditional methodologies.
Kanban is another commonly used workflow management method. Similar to Scrum, each project comprises several tasks. These tasks are displayed to all team members so that everyone is aware of how things are coming along.
You’ll then divide these tasks into three columns: to-do, doing, and done. A lot of teams also create an on-hold or stuck column, which is used to sort tasks that are, for some reason, put on hold.
Of course, you don’t need to stick to these names. Web development companies often use to-do, pause, reopened, developing, testing, and live. This part is entirely up to you and your organization.
If you’re not skilled in leveraging Kanban or Scrum, you could ask for web development consulting assistance to help you get on track. This is a great post to read if you want to find out more about what web development consultants do and why your business needs them.
2. Set a Realistic Timeline
Once you’re aware of how many steps your team will need to take to finish the product, it’s time to set an estimate. This includes details on what your team will need to finish things up in time, such as a certain headcount, time, and other resources. Based on this, you’ll determine the overall cost of the product.
Now, this is just an estimate.
Some of your team members may leave your company while the project is still ongoing. You may also face some unexpected problems during the QA phase. Eventually, your client may decide to make some last-minute changes.
These things will affect the project whether you like it or not, so be ready to adjust the timeline and other estimates.
But be careful when you’re setting the timeline. You shouldn’t take on more work than your team can handle. Otherwise, your client will be extremely dissatisfied, knowing that the delays could have been avoided if you were transparent and honest in the first place. It is your job to manage their expectations from the moment you agree to take on the project.
3.Use a Project Management Tool
It’s hard to imagine a web development company that doesn’t use a project management tool. They will make your job so much easier since your team will be able to easily see what they need to do now and what lies ahead. Also, it’s easier to document your progress through these apps than to write it on paper.
There are a lot of different project management tools on the market. Some of the popular ones are Trello, Jira, Hive, Wrike, and others.
You should pick the one that supports the project management method you’re using. For instance, if you’re using Scrum, tools such as Jira are a superb choice.
Jira is a bug-tracking and project management tool that is currently used by a variety of teams. It is an especially useful tool for web development companies, as it allows for frequent product updates. Project tracking is also convenient because you can easily track issues and their updates, people that are assigned, make comments and track time using colors.
One extremely useful feature for clients is the possibility of generating reports in various forms: pie chart report, user workload report, cumulative flow diagram report, sprint report, and many others.
4. Set Boundaries
Is the customer always right? Well, yes, and no. The product you’re developing is, no doubt, theirs. But, that doesn’t mean everything is possible in web development.
Clients are usually not web developers and don’t understand how developing works. It is your task to explain what’s possible and what isn’t, especially if the changes you’re making will affect the timeline.
This is where many people make a mistake and accept the client’s demands before consulting with their team. If a feature can’t be added without changing the timeline, you need to inform your client.
They will either give up on the idea or give you the green light, knowing that will cause some delays. If they insist on something that can’t be accomplished, you’ll need to be polite but firm.
Otherwise, you’ll be the one to blame if the product isn’t finished in time.
5. Think about QA on Time
Some managers forget to include testing in the project timeline, thinking they’ll simply add it later when the project is about to be finished.
Since quality assurance (QA) is basically the final stage before the project is released, managers often feel like that stage is so far away when the project is in its beginning stages.
But not including QA in the project timeline is a terrible idea. First, testing can’t be done over the night. QA engineers need time to examine the code for any bugs before they release it. Oftentimes, they find a bug that needs fixing, which means your team will need to go back and fix the problem.
This will reflect on the timeline and cause unnecessary delays. For that reason, think about QA on time.
Including the testing stage in the project’s estimate is the kind of transparency your client will appreciate.
6. Organize the Documentation
Once you start managing projects using project management methodologies like Scrum or Kanban, you’ll notice having a lot more documentation than before.
User guides, installation notes, release notes, FAQs, and similar documents are all examples of documentation that should be prepared for the end-users.
Along with that, your team will create wireframes, designs, and notes that are not meant to be released but are useful to the developers working on the project.
But these documents are useless if your team can’t easily locate these files. You’ll need a tool that allows you to create multiple sub-folders (Google Drive, for instance) and store files with a variety of extensions. You should also create rules for naming these files so that everyone knows what’s inside them without having to open each one.
Doing this will prevent future delays caused by your team members not being able to find what they’ve worked on the day before.
7. Track the Progress
Tracking the web development process is an important part of the manager’s job. Knowing where you stand in terms of expenses, schedule, and scope is necessary if you want everything to go according to the plan.
For instance, your developers might run into a problem that will most likely cause some delays. In this situation, you could reorganize the rest of the project and try to fit it into the existing timeline. You could also hire new developers to help out. The only way to choose the right option is to know where you stand with the rest of the project. You can’t make any decisions without having enough information.
Tracking the progress of your project is not only useful for that particular project. It will also improve your ability to make better estimates for future projects and stay ahead of the curve.
Here are some practical tips:
- Schedule daily check-ins between the manager and developers. This will help establish trust between them and ensure everything goes smoothly.
- Ask how you can help. Project managers and HR should make sure the developers aren’t overwhelmed and stressed. This will reflect on their quality of work and productivity.
- Establish small milestones. Your employees are more likely to feel satisfied when they accomplish something.
8. Include Risk Management
There is always a risk that something won’t go according to plan.
Some risks are very likely to happen but have a low impact. They pose the least threat. Others have a high impact and are very likely to happen. When they do, they could endanger the project. These risks pose a severe threat.
If you don’t plan to reduce the risk impact, you’re bound to fail. Big delays and going way over budget are some worst-case scenarios. For that reason, you always need to have something up your sleeve and plan.
Another important thing you should do is update the list of risks as the project moves forward. The goal is to be able to anticipate these events and their consequences so that you’re always prepared to deal with them efficiently.
9. Choose a Reliable Team
Finally, you need to choose the right people for your project. It doesn’t matter how good someone is at their job if they’re not reliable. Only those that are responsible will stick to the deadlines and do their jobs the way they should.
Also, people that work together need to be compatible. After all, they will be spending hours on the same project, so they must get along well. Poor communication between your team members will cause tension and eventually affect the project as well.
Many people quit their jobs if they don’t like how they’re being treated.
Keeping your web development projects on schedule is not impossible if you establish a good plan. Planning is essential to project management and skipping this step will reflect on all the other points we’ve discussed in this article.
So, the next time you take on a new project, go step by step and start by planning. A good strategy and collaboration between your team members is the path to success.