Today, my office is on board a Megabus from Las Vegas to California for my 30th birthday weekend. I’ve set aside a budget and planned for the various activities I want to do in California that are within my budget. My ideal vision for my trip may be to splurge on a $2,400 VIP Disneyland Tour, but my budget will dictate what I can actually afford to do. This is what it’s like for clients that come to WebDevStudios (WDS). You have a vision for your website and a rough idea on how much you can spend. Our team then has a thorough discovery with you in order to determine what can be built within that budget. Creating a budget during the initial phases of the project helps to manage expectations, set realistic goals and deliverables, and prepare for unexpected costs. WDS respects clients’ budgets and as a Project Manager, my goal is to bring your vision to life by completing your website projects on budget. Here are the ways we do that:
We Perform a Client Discovery
Once you’ve gone through the discovery and design phase of the project life cycle, your Project Manager will begin preparing for the development phase. At this point, your Client Strategist has created your project plan and your budget is set. We then will take that project plan and will create individual tasks for the development team. We then work with the Lead Engineers to determine how many hours each task will take.
This step is critical for budget planning. We try to always assign tasks based on the developer’s skill set. If we know a developer is strong and fast in a particular area, then we want to make sure that developer gets that particular task. They will likely need less time so that saves precious hours that can be allocated elsewhere.
We also set aside hours for QA, calls, project management, and launch. These are items you may not realize add to the bottom line. We account for as much as possible so that there are no surprises later.
We Communicate to the Client Their Responsibilities
The best way you can help ensure the project stays on budget is to be as detailed as possible during this initial discovery phase. Let us know how the site should behave:
- What do you and your users expect?
- What are some pain points with your previous site?
- What functionality do you need?
User stories are not required but greatly help us during this phase. Vagueness and ambiguity in the project plan lead to budget risks down the line. One sentence can be interpreted in many different ways by the project manager, the engineer, or you. If you see any vague or ambiguous statements in the project plan, work with your Client Strategist to clarify before the project starts.
Being thorough and detailed initially will prevent us from having to use more time to redo a certain feature down the line if it doesn’t meet your expectations.
We Inform the Engineers of Your Budget
After we’ve broken the project into individual tasks and estimated hours, we schedule a kickoff call with the engineers. We go through the project plan budget to ensure the engineers are aware of what they are building and how much time they have to build it. It is at this time they can raise awareness if they think a particular task is going to take longer than anticipated. Knowing this ahead of time allows for us to shift more hours to that particular task.
We Take Special Measures to Ensure the Project Is on Budget
The Project Management team monitors the hours being spent on tasks daily. When an engineer gets close to reaching their allocated time for a task, we will determine if the task is on budget. If that task is at risk of going over budget, we then see what ways we can make that time up. There may be a task that came under hours that balances the one that went over hours. Minor overages are expected, but if the overage is becoming severe and that particular feature turns out to be more complicated than expected, we will work with you to see if there are other areas of the site we can simplify.
WebDevStudios also adheres to coding practices that ensure we spend less time debugging during the QA phase.
We’re Open to New Requests
When I went shopping to prepare for my trip, I only thought I would be purchasing clothes. As I was leaving the mall, the guy at the kiosk asked if I wanted to also get my teeth whitened. This was not something I had planned for or expected but now knew I needed because… #birthdayselfies.
During the development process, you may discover new functionality that your website needs but we may not have accounted for it in the budget. This is expected. To make sure we stay on budget, let us know what that new functionality is and we will add it to a backlog. After development is complete, we will go through the backlog and complete new items if the budget allows. If we’ve exhausted the budget, we will work with you to increase the budget to account for those new things.
As I prepare to head back home to Las Vegas, I’ve come to some realizations about budgeting. I had an amazing and spontaneous trip! It did not go exactly as I had planned it, but I stayed committed to the budget I had set. Instead of wasting money on a hotel, I opted to stay with family and allocated more of my budget on front-of-the-line passes at Universal Studios and trying new restaurants.
The initial budget planning is key but so is managing that budget throughout the project life cycle. It requires commitment, diligence, flexibility, clear communication and the ability to handle unexpected situations. By using these steps above, we can reach our ultimate goal of delivering great websites on budget—just like I was able to enjoy a memorable birthday weekend while remaining within my own budget.