How to Avoid a Shattered Web or Mobile Project

August 26th, 2010

Having been in the interactive multimedia space for almost 20 years I have witnessed time and again the main reasons why good ideas and projects go south.  And for all of you reading this that have been in the IT community for any length of time, this information will seem like basic common sense.  However, I find it frustrating that again and again I see business owners and Directors fall prey to the same mistakes.

Unlike David Letterman’s top 10 list these reasons really have no order of importance.  So, what are some of the key reasons that website or mobile projects stagnate or fail?  Let’s take a look:

  • No “champion” of the project on the customer side. It is critical to have an internal sponsor of the project to ensure smooth communication and project follow through.
  • Decision by committee; this can sometimes stagnate a process that is already complex due to the technical nature of the project itself.  Having a large committee making decisions on the customer side is normally a very bad idea.  Keep your team to 3 – 4 people max to ensure effective and timely execution of the project.
  • Defined Statement of Work; let me be clear, what we do takes a nebulous idea and we turn it into a digital reality, however having a well written document to guide the mobile or website project is essential.  A pre-defined statement of work is very helpful to keep everyone in line with the same expectations.
  • Design failure; having a good direction of design is also a great idea.  Design is much like artwork, at the end of the day, what you like as the business owner others will pick apart, but that is okay.  Don’t get muddled down in round after round of design thinking you will find the perfect “look and feel”.  There is no such thing, just finding the one that works for your company and customers is the main goal.  Many times it’s best to trust the experts that you have hired instead of dictating a design from just one point of view.
  • Failure to Budget; make sure that your firm has set aside the proper budget to fund the project.  Most interactive companies require some sort of substantial down payment of 30% – 45% to begin a project.  It’s also a good idea to have a little more set aside for any additional ideas that may come up during project development.
  • Staff turnover; this can really be a problem in some cases, if the internal champion on the project leaves during development then the forward momentum can be lost.  Make sure your internal champion has a second to take over in the event of staff turnover.
  • “Going on the Cheap”; okay……to be fair I understand that everyone cannot afford to use a professional development firm.  There are great freelancers out there, but make sure that if you use an individual freelancer or college student that you get some assurances or references.  Our firm receives a fair amount of business that started out with clients being to frugal.  At the end of the process in many of these cases they ended up paying the same as if they had initially just gone with with a professional firm, which was mainly due to time delay’s and cost over runs.

These are by no means all of the reasons that I’ve seen clients struggle with projects over years, but they are some of the main reasons.  If you have had a shattered project and would like to talk about your frustrations and how the process can be reinvigorated please feel free to contact us, I’d be glad to help.

John Rainey

John Rainey brings almost 20 years of sales, marketing and business development experience in the custom multimedia-, Internet- and mobile programming industry. He has worked with Fortune 500 corporate executives and small- to mid-sized business owners alike. His experience spans projects with such companies as Northrop Grumman, Booz Allen, SAIC, Beazer Homes, Homebuilders Association of Maryland, Volvo Rents, Rodale Publishing and Draeger Medical Devices.

One Response to “How to Avoid a Shattered Web or Mobile Project”

  1. Leigh Kramer says:

    Nice article, I hope some people read it!

    I was reading an article yesterday from an interactive company who definitely mirrors our thinking about how to avoid web project disasters. They had a funny quote: “Tell me your budget or you’re getting a Camry.” That cracked me up because this is something Sarah would say…

    Cheers.

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