The past month, I have been watching from my home office the comings and goings of an array of contractors at my neighbor’s house. They are building an addition to their home, preparing for the birth of their first child. I have watched the frenzied movements with curiosity and, I am not afraid to admit, a bit of anxiety knowing that her due date was quickly approaching. As a Project Manager, I started to think this is very similar to the way our clients come to WebDevStudios (WDS). Much like my neighbors, our clients have a need and a deadline to go with it. Perhaps their timeline for a new website corresponds to an upcoming event or a new fiscal year. Regardless, we respect these due dates and deliver their website projects on time. Here’s how:
We obtain assets early.
First, we ask for all assets, third-party integrations, hosting information, etc. early on in the project life cycle. If we wait till we get to the point in development when we actually need them and there is a hiccup, it inevitably would set us back. By simply asking upfront, we eliminate those disruptions. Even if our clients don’t have this information at the start, it gets the ball rolling sooner and we still receive the details we need before we are behind schedule.
We set milestones.
We break out development into a bunch of mini due dates called milestone completion dates. If we miss a milestone completion date for some reason, we know we need to adjust what we are doing for the following milestones to ensure we meet the ultimate deliverable date. Additionally, we track our progress of completing our milestones and share that with our clients throughout development to be fully transparent.
In the same vein, if something changes for our clients and they need to bump the timeline out, it is critical that this is communicated to us as soon as possible. This ensures that we will be able to reallocate resources to accommodate the new timeline. Open and frequent communication with our clients is essential and key to the success of the timeline.
Sometimes our clients do not have a hard deadline, which is okay. It is still important, though, that we have a timeline that both WDS and the client adhere to. It can be a challenge when there is no pressure on the client’s end for the website project to be complete. In order to be successful in following the timeline, we need buy-in from the client. Oftentimes, clients have waited quite a while to get a new website. Perhaps they didn’t have the financial resources previously, or perhaps they didn’t have the personnel bandwidth. Whatever the reason may be, it can be tough for the client to then shift into fifth gear. By building excitement and sharing progress with the client, they are able to buy into the timeline.
We plan ahead.
Finally, it is always wise to add a little cushion. If a client must have their site by a certain date, we create a timeline where we will be completing the project a few days prior to that date. This way if we hit a bump in the road, as can happen, we have some wiggle room.
Luckily, our due dates aren’t quite as elusive as my neighbor’s (she wound up delivering her baby a month early!). Once we create a timeline, we are able to stick to it by partnering with our clients to follow these guidelines, ensuring that their website launches on time.