Managing a Successful Web Development Project – The Client Sidewebventurer
If you come to a point in which you have to deal with a web development project from the Client side, reading this article before will help you have some checkpoints and ideas regarding this process.
There are some phases that have to be completed in order for the project to be successful:
- Project definition: this is mainly your responsibility. You can ask for some specialists help but mainly what you have to define is:
- Business goals. They have to be: clear and concise, pragmatic, realistic and achievable, countable and measurable
For example, the presentation website for an architecture consultancy company can have the following business goals: 1000 monthly visitors, 20 monthly leads collected, decreasing administrative effort with 10%, supporting the sales process by detailing the services and educating the prospect;
- Project description. This should: present the project in a non-technical way, focus on the business need and offer many references (from the competition or other industries);
- Building mock-ups. You have to imagine and put into a material form your vision. Mock-ups can be made with: pen and paper, paint or other drawing software or with special mock-up software such as: Balsamiq, Mockingbird, Mock-up Builder. Successful mock-ups are: explanatory and referring to all the sections and versions;
- Features list and user scenarios. Here you have to detail and explain the features with all the details involved, list the user types and describe all the users’ interaction with the desired product. This part has to be: detailed, comprehensive, containing references and examples, well-structured and covering all types of users;
- Non-functional features. For this section you might need an expert touch. Here, you have to define the project infrastructure, the usage predictions (eg: we will have 1000 unique users and 5000 visits daily with maximum simultaneous instances: 20), security (eg: the application will run just within the Company VPN), other conditions;
- The strategy for project adoption. This is optional, and refers mainly to projects that are niched on a specific users’ segment.
A web development project has to contain several roles. The one team member can have more than one role but you have to make sure that when you’re setting up the project you will engage the following roles:
- Product owner (usually this has to be on the client side but can also be on the developer side)
- Project manager
- Business/system analyst
- UI/UX/Graphic designer
- Front-end developer
- Back-end developer
- QA Engineer / Tester
- Client Service executive
In order for you to be able to select the right partner for your project you have to take into account the following checklist:
- He understands your project and its implications and finds it attractive;
- He has the capabilities and is able to cover the entire role list for your project. He has to identify the roles and present the team members involved;
- He has previous expertise with technically similar projects;
- He asks for a lot of details in the beginning, before making an estimation;
- He is able to present a project time-line and contractually commit to it.
There are more work models that are mainly differentiated taking into consideration the project definition at the moment of contracting. We have:
- The fixed price model – when the project is well defined, down to the smallest details and will not change during the project implementation (fixed budget);
- Time and materials model – when the project is not well defined and/or there are chances of many changes during the project implementation (man-day or man-hour cost will be presented by the developer);
- Full time employee commitment – when you develop a product that usually evolves continuously (monthly fee per specialist allocated).
The key contractual terms that you have to clarify at the moment of contracting are:
- The deadline (for a fixed price project) – has to be clear and has to include non-compliance penalties;
- The budget / fees: for fixed price projects has to be set-up but you can also include time and materials fees in case you will want to change or develop new functionalities after the project delivery;
- Supplier responsibilities – have to be clearly specified and all the roles have to be covered by the contractual agreement;
- Project timeline – the Gantt chart has to appear in the contract;
- Verification points (milestones) – you can link the payment installments with the milestones – this prevents delays, errors and misunderstandings;
- Intellectual property of the work result has to be specifically transferred you in exchange for the amount paid.
In order for the project to be well managed by the product owner, he has to be in close and constant cooperation with the project manager and the CS Executive. There are couple of techniques for keeping the project on-track:
- Set-up timely project calls/meetings – usually weekly. These have to cover: project status – Gantt chart evolution, issues encountered, extra information, project delays;
- Keep track of the project and condition the payment installments with the intermediary deliverables;
- Set-up client testing sessions and deadlines for the intermediary deliverables (eg: in maximum 2 days after intermediary delivery you will send the client testing feedback);
- Give all the information and materials asked by the developer within the agreed deadlines.