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Managing a web development project

How to sail through every complex project successfully.

Solid organization and project management skills are essential to the success of any complex project, and web development is a perfect example. A digital agency will be required to manage a development team, digital assets, multiple deadlines, as well as client expectations and deliverables. It is essential to keep everyone motivated, on schedule, and on task while keeping clients informed throughout the entire process.

Start with a gameplan. Itemize all deliverables and breakdown by task. Some deliverables will be the same for every web development project and others will be unique to the existing client and project. Reusing task sets from a prior job or similar project can help streamline the planning process. Group task sets and organize by deadline to increase efficiency and keep staff focused on their particular assignments while keeping the larger picture in view.

Track milestones. A project gameplan should include due dates for each deliverable. Deliverables can then be invoiced as project milestones to keep the cash flow up while your staff works through the project.

Meetings and communication. Treat clients as team members by keeping them informed of progress through regular communication. The idea is not to commit everyone to lengthy meetings, but to keep clients updated, to remind of upcoming deadlines and to keep the project moving. Frequent communication can also serve as a stop-gap to address any questions, problems or issues, including scope creep and missed deadlines, allowing opportunity for early course correction. Project dashboards or client admin panels are ideal as they can track progress and allow check-in anytime. Online project management software like Asana and Basecamp can do double-duty, allowing team members to access their to-dos, clients to access progress, and everyone to access and upload digital assets and resources.

Deliverables and scope creep. Complex projects like web development are particularly vulnerable to scope creep as a project can easily grow to include additional (albeit logical) features and functionality. Balance your client relationship with what is feasible and what will impact the original project scope, budget and timeline. Scope changes may impact progress but also offer an opportunity to grow the project (perhaps into a new phase) and deliver more value.

Project evaluation and inventory. Always take a step back to communicate with your staff and ascertain how the process could be improved. What deadlines were missed and why? What was completed ahead of schedule? What issues or problems were encountered in the process? What improvements could have been made? Evaluate how any imperfections could have been avoided or handled better. Identify weakness in the process and a develop strategy for improvement.

Web projects can be complex and wrought with opportunity for problems. Developing a solid strategy for project management can keep expectations realistic, communication clear, team members focused and deadlines met. Keep clients informed so they feel a part of the process. You will soon be looking back on another successful project!

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