Dear readers, when I wrote this article – I planned to come up with a list of 10 most important things, that you need to keep from to make your project a success, but getting close to the end I’ve realized, that there are actually 11 things and the last thing weights so much in your project success, that it cannot be excluded. So let’s get straight to the point, below is the list:
1) Do not invest money you cannot risk with.
Keep from borrowing too much, don’t borrow the amount you don’t know how to return or earn back, if things fail, because sometimes things fail no matter how you try, because of you not knowing some important aspects beforehand. It is hard to predict everything, things go not exactly the way you imagined during project implementation and you might have to adjust your plans. Be ready for making adjustments or for trying multiple times, because sometimes things don’t work from the first time. It doesn’t mean they won’t work, but reaching your goal might take more time, more attempts and you need to count on longer run and you don’t want to end up in debt or with no resources to start again. Risk with an amount you can live loosing;
2) Do not count too much on partners, count on yourself and your own resources.
Partners can change their behavior or express some unexpected traits or intentions during the project realization. Sometimes people break up with their partners and have to finish their project on their own. Get partners, but do not give them too much control over your project success and its key aspects, be ready to fight and complete your project regardless the partners and if things go well – then good for you, it is easy to accept good scenario;
3) Do not start your project until you have a clear picture of what it should include, what it should do and what kind of work it might require.
It is better to work on the project specification, wire frames, detailed project description (work on it yourself or collaborate with prospected production team) and ask for an estimate rather than go for an indefinite endless process. Many IT companies are interested in selling you time packages, rent their resources or dedicated teams. It’s because they are interested in you working with them and paying for an indefinite period of time, as it comes out much longer and less risky for them and more expensive for you. You need to plan and control your expenses. In many cases waterfall works fine. Agile is good for really complex projects, where the scope cannot be defined at the start and is expected to change on the go multiple times responding to the fast market changes. Invest in creation of the project spec and get the estimate rather than just start working with the company on the implementation of your “great idea”. Be exact yourself in defining for you and your production team what do you want and demand the same in return;
4) Do not switch the company and the team during project implementation.
I’ve known some customers, who were very close to getting it done, but lost their patience, started blaming the team, people in the team, started consulting with other providers, asking for audit, independent code review etc. and ended up spending at least twice as much or having to start everything from scratch and lacking resources to ever complete the project. When you do this way – you should remember: changing the team takes your time, you have to explain the project all over again to another team, dive into the details, wait for the team to obtain the knowledge of the project; and other teams are competitors, they all want business and paying customers, so, of course, they will find what is wrong with the work of the people you use. Do not waste your time on extreme jumps unless you feel, that it is absolutely necessary, because the team you use just doesn’t deliver. Better request your team to be more transparent, set some conditions they should meet before getting the next payment, demand changes in their process, but do not go for radical changes, they delay your way to the completion;
5) Make a good choice selecting a company, do not make a bad choice at the start and do not hurry to start.
I could advise you to make a research about the company you are considering, to review their profiles on well-known resources, to request their references. All this is the right thing to do. But the truth is, that most part of IT companies have good profiles on some resources, because they delivered some projects, otherwise they wouldn’t be around, they just wouldn’t live. And most of the companies have people who were pleased with their work as they delivered their project successfully. But it is also true, that most part of the companies also had projects that failed. Projects can fail due to the number of reasons, usually it is a combination of things, but as you can understand the reason is not only in customers. It can be in company assigning the wrong people, assigning inexperienced people, in company’s internal processes not being stable (high stuff turn over, changes in top management), in company’s resources being overloaded, in your project not having high enough priority for the company. So my advice: when choosing a company – choose people, who express not only an interest, but who understand your project, who can share with you what is the best way to implement it and how they are going to do that, who respond to your additional questions and give clarifications without an irritation and who provide detailed and transparent project estimation. Do not choose people, who don’t want to spend their time to discuss your project and would like to discuss their pricing model. That is the sign of them whether being overloaded, that will result in low priority for your project or the sign of their lack of competence (they just cannot handle such depth of discussion) and you don’t want to work with incompetent people;
6) Value your time and your team’s time – do not demand too much of free communication.
Communication loss is the thing, that might not be counted during providing you with the project estimate. So be ready for the project management hours and time for communication to be included into the estimate or even ask to include it yourself, because otherwise you might get an irritation from the team about extra time, that goes on the communication. Many companies include 10% from the project estimated hours for project management, but indeed it is closer to 30% of time, do not perceive those hours as some unnecessary overhead, clear and timely communication is critical for making a successful project;
7) Do not choose provider with the lowest price.
This should be obvious, companies that go down low in pricing do not have many customers or a network of permanent clients, therefore they are more likely to fail. Many companies know, that proposals with the lowest price and the highest price are usually rejected and the customer tends to choose something in between thinking that is probably the most optimal offer. So they will aim to provide you with such an optimal offer and in the most part of cases there is still a room to negotiate and receive a discount. Although I don’t have to teach you there, most part of the customers know how to do this well;
8) Divide your project into steps (milestones), that are easier to complete, ask your company to clearly define deliverables tied to the milestones and break project payments accordingly.
Avoid paying a lot at the beginning and having too much project functionality to be left till the final milestone unless payments are structured accordingly, watch the percentage of payment to match to the percentage of the functionality to be completed in each phase;
9) Keep track of your project implementation.
Be there for your project and the team, provide all needed information in time, avoid empty spots and breaks in the communication and project implementation, they harm and delay your project;
10) Do not think, that once your project is completed – the market will welcome it with open arms.
Any product or service require marketing, that usually costs at least as much as production. Count on that budget before you start the development, have it reserved. When you are done with the development – the fight for success only starts. Completion of the development is the first battle, that you’ve won;
11) Do not be negative about your project. Believe in it.
You are the first and the main person your project depends on, no one means more and can do more for your project success than you, your input and your positive mode. You can do it, even if it seems too hard, step by step it will build up. Insist.
Please share your feedback, comments, things you would add to this list from your perspective and do get in touch with your project ideas. Good luck in your journey to your project success!
Author: Irina Stepanenko