Project Planning in Web Development
March 11 2016, 9:16 am
by Wes Sovis
Plan Your Project - Save Time and Money
The Importance of Planning
Perhaps the most important aspect of a web development project is the coordination and communication between the developers, project manager and the client. It's no understatement to say that the end result of the project is very often determined in the critical opening phases of any project. Proper planning and scope exercises can save time, costs, and more than a few headaches for clients. Here are a few tips for planning your next web development project in order to maximize your ROI and produce your ideal web application or software.
Communication is Key
The best way to start any web development project is to have everyone who is going to be involved get into a room together, or at least have a conference call on Skype or another teleconferencing medium. At Swell, we have a motto that three days of planning saves three weeks of programming. If we can spend three days building a scope with the client, we can get a detailed look at the modules, features, and functionality our client desires before we start working. That means the client doesn't have to ask for changes in basic requirements down the road. Fewer changes mean fewer billable hours later in the project, which helps clients keep costs down.
Of course, it's impossible to plan for every detail or change in features that arise later in the programming phase. But limiting the unknown to a minimum is always the best interest of both the clients and the developers.
Organize and Prioritize
At the end of the planning phase, each party involved in the project (each developer, project manager, as well as client personnel) should know what tasks are expected of them, as well as when those tasks should be completed. At Swell, we use the project management tool on our Vortex application offering, as it works perfectly for handing out tasks to team members, tracking project completion, and much more. As a project manager, it's best to hand tasks out to developers in increments; bite-sized projects that can be completed in a week or less. This allows developers to focus on one portion of the project at a time and helps the project manager easily track the progress of and completion of tasks as a group. Our strategy is to always work on the most crucial components of an application first, allowing the client to review and request changes to these business-critical portions of the applications for a longer period of time before launch, rather than at the end of the project. This incremental, prioritized approach is known as the Scrum method and is utilized by the most professional and efficient web development organizations. This approach also hinges on communication between developers, clients, and the project manager on a daily basis for continuous collaboration and accountability.
Decide on a Timeline and Stick to It
In early planning, it's important to determine when an application needs to be launched. Once the scope of the project is laid out, developers, project managers, and the client need to work together to determine a realistic timeline for completion. Once the date for the final completion is agreed upon, work backward to establish a series of benchmarks to help keep work on pace. For example, if a project is expected to take six months, a team could decide that two modules will need to be completed every month in order to meet the project deadline.
Understandably so, nothing is more frustrating for a client than a missed project deadline. The number one cause for missed deadlines is added features and functionality requested well into the development phase. This extra work can seriously set developers back, as well as add time and cost to the project. This should reiterate the importance of planning a project as thoroughly as possible before starting development.
If you'd like to talk about our project planning techniques, or check out our project management module within the Vortex applications, get in touch via email. You can also stay up to date for more industry news, trends and best practices by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We appreciate you taking the time to read!