Website Project Management can have it’s “ups” and “downs”.
The “ups”, of course, are when everything goes smoothly.
- The artwork phase starts and ends in a timely fashion.
- Concepts are provided, the client steers the graphic designer to the next level of concept, tweaks are made and the design gracefully glides into production.
- The design is reversed engineered into a navigable empty web site. Client is shown the development site and watches for progress.
- Communication is maintained from both sides and all is going in the perfect direction.
- The client has been collecting content during the art phase and during the site build out phase. How wonderful to have content ready, to be placed throughout the web site!
- Photo galleries are installed and and the client has collected all photos to be dropped into the galleries.
- An ecommerce package is installed and all product photos, descriptions and data have been provided by the client for ease of building the cart out. There are no snags in payment gateways and the SSL was issued without problems.
- The site goes through final testing and the clients input for final tweaks have been made.
- The site is ready for launch and on time.
Everything is coming together and on schedule because everyone has done their homework and the last pieces of the puzzle are put into place.
Does this really happen in the real world?
I think the global answer would be “not all of the time”. I believe that most often issues can enter the picture and begin to muddy the waters. While it is always the web development company’s responsibility to make sure the timeline is adhered to on their end, other things can push the project outside the timeline:
- The employee who was assigned and has been working on the project gets sick, or decides to find employment elsewhere.
- Vacations and sick days are also wedges that can delay a project.
- The web development company drops the ball.
- The developers are saying one thing and doing another.
- The developers are overbooked and can’t deliver on all the hours they may be responsible in that week.
- Communication became a problem.
While the web development company does it’s best to keep the project going forward from their end, issues always seem to come up.
As Paul Harvey used to say, “Now, the rest of the story”.
The client has responsibilities in a project as well:
- Decision by committee always drag down the process. Especially the art phase. While time continues to tick in reviewing the concepts, making change requests and final approvals can really push the timeline out of sync.The client understanding seems to be fair “until…”.
- Each phase of the project is given a timeline. Once one piece of the timeline gets out of sync we will find the domino effect start to corrupt the project timeline.
- Once the final artwork is approved and the empty web site is built out, the site is ready for content.
- Oh but wait! The content is not finished or it has not even been started. Reminders have been made about content but the client became too busy to finish their portion. Now we may be entering a very dangerous path. This can end up with a project stall. Everything has been done by the web development company to keep the project moving forward. Gentle phones calls and emails don’t seem to be working.
- Or, how about the project scope suddenly changes? The client wishes that something extra be included in the site build out. Discussions now occur and plans to add new project functionality begins.
- The client no longer likes the design and is requesting changes, halfway through the project. This one is an all time favorite 🙂
All these things from both sides of the isle, can make for a timeline bust and a project that can be eventually blamed on the web development company. It was once coined, “good intentions paved the way to… ”.
Communication is Key
The long and the short of it is we are all human. Hopefully we are all doing our best to achieve the same outcome. Both the web development company and the client have a responsibility to get the job done in the most efficient manner possible. Many factors on both sides can delay a project or simply bring the project to a stall. Communication is the single most important factor in this whole process.
In this business, it is the web development company’s responsibility to do their very best at working around all obstacles that might enter the picture, so that in the end, the client is happy!