The first stage of any project is to find out why you’re doing it, what the requirements are, what the success measures are, what the timescales are and what the budget is. You should aim to spend about 10% of the overall project time discussing, agreeing and documenting your requirements. It’ll save time and money in the long run if this is done properly.
Projects which ‘must’ be completed by a certain date, without any consideration for the scope or requirements of the project, the resource management or other risk factors involved ignore the real world challenges that projects face. So build in contingency wherever possible, and be really clear about all the assumptions that are being made. Communicate any slippage immediately and realign people’s expectations when neccessary.
Changes are to be expected on a project, but ensure that each one is treated as a new requirement and subjected to the same rigours as your original requirements. Scope creep happens when multiple small ‘adjustments’ are made along the way which amount to large changes in the overall scope and/or deliverables at the end. These can nulify or even contradict other requirements, and always add time and budget to a project, often without the proper approvals in place. If something feels like a new requirement then it probably is. Flexibility is the key here, but make sure all changes are logged and can be referred back to in the future.
Testing can be undervalued and is often underestimated. No digital project is ever delivered without finding bugs during testing. So allow plenty of time for testing and appreciate the effort involved. Also, good requirements gathering leads to good test scripts, which leads to good testing. The more throughly tested your product or website is before launch, the happier your end users will be.
Efficient communication will be needed between any members of a project team; client and agency, project manager and developers, or between developer and developer. Communicating too much can be almost as bad as communicating too little, so be selective about what you communicate and consider your audience too; what do they really need to know right now? Most importantly, if you’re not sure what something means then ask what it means. Confusion over the meaning of something can lead to all sorts of unintended errors, misunderstandings and unnecessary delays. And if you don’t understand the meaning of something, then the chances are other people don’t either. So don’t take any chances, and find out!