Imagine your development project as a car on an Arizona highway. You’re cruising down the road, a healthy 20% over the speed limit. Windows down. James Brown on the radio.
You blink and all of a sudden you’re free falling off a cliff. AHHHHRHRHRHGHGHGHGH!
This is what happens with development projects a startling amount of the time. You don’t realize you are careening towards failure until you’re most of the way there.
A few things of note at this moment in time:
- You’re all but assured of missing both your budget and timeline expectations.
- You likely will have to build an expensive parachute, mid-flight to even land the car (project).
Obviously, the key here is to realize much earlier when you’re heading astray, ideally once you’ve hit the rumble strips on the side of the road.
Here’s a simple guidepost to strive for. At any point, any member of a team (both client & resource side) should be able to speak to how a project is progressing in terms of timing and budget.
There will be surprises.
There’s no way around it. Any development team that claims otherwise is either inexperienced or (at worst) deceptive.
So you can plan for them.
One way we’ve systemized this idea is with a simple addition to our weekly status calls with clients. Every week we checkin on timing and budget and assign red, yellow, or green statuses. This allows everyone on the team to be on board with “how we’re doing”.
A yellow status helps to
- Facilitate a shared conversations about budget before it’s all gone.
- Renew focus on scope and refining what’s most important.
- Create earlier conversations about moving timelines. No one likes to move a timeline a week out.
Green and red statuses, are clear indicators of things either going really well, or really not well.
With a shared clarity on project success metrics, this transparency will lead to healthier team dynamics and a better end-product.