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Avoiding the Dreaded Deadline Doom

Jen Fowler
#Industry Insights
Published on August 20, 2015

We share some tips for how to plan your projects to avoid scrambling to meet deadlines.

DeadlineIf you venture into the WSOL offices on any given day, you’ll see the members of our team working on a number of different web design and development projects in various stages of completion. Some members of the design team might be creating wireframes for a redesigned site, while developers write the code to implement the advanced functionality required by another website project. How do we keep track of all of these efforts and ensure that they are completed on time?

That’s where project management comes in. One of the key goals of a project manager is to make sure work is completed on time. Since we work on complex website projects that require many interconnecting resources every day, we’ve built up some good habits, and we wanted to share some tips on how you can avoid a last minute rush to meet your deadlines:

1. Create a Realistic Schedule

At the beginning of a project, it’s important to get a full picture of everything that will be required to complete it. You need to understand all the tasks that will need to be completed, how much time each task will take, and whether any tasks are dependent on each other. You should also consider the availability of your internal resources, avoiding any conflicts and ensuring that your team has the capacity to complete their tasks.

Having gathered this knowledge, you’ll be able to create a realistic schedule and set deadlines that your team will be able to meet. If possible, it’s a good idea to build in some buffers, allowing for the possibility that tasks may take longer to complete than anticipated or that unforeseen complications may arise. Once you’ve laid out your schedule, make sure you communicate the delivery dates to all team members, as well as the client.

2. Conduct Regular Review Meetings

In order to keep projects on track, it’s incredibly important to make sure everyone understands what is required of them. The best way to do so is to meet regularly and find out how work is progressing, what challenges are being faced, any issues that have arisen, and anything else that might affect your team’s ability to meet your deadlines.

At WSOL, we begin each week with a quick 15-20 minute meeting with our entire team, running through our projects and looking at what each team member will be working on. This helps us identify any questions or concerns and learn whether we will have any resource allocation issues. Involving the entire team keeps everyone aware of what is going on with all active projects, and it helps us understand how we can best work together to meet deadlines.

3. Maintain Constant Communication

In addition to internal review meetings, it’s essential to maintain communication with the client. Provide them with a high level copy of the project schedule that shows them the relevant dates, deadlines, and deliverables, and make sure they know what is expected of them. If you need approval from them before moving on to the next phase of the project, make sure they understand this. If they are required to complete deliverables such as feedback or conducting user acceptance testing (UAT), be sure to let them know ahead of time what kind of feedback is expected, detailed instructions on how to test the site, and what date feedback is due in order to keep the schedule on track.

Communicating these expectations to the client and getting feedback on time ensures that they are able to work collaboratively with you during the design process, and it encourages them to work to keep their project on schedule. Maintaining this constant contact can also help uncover issues like miscommunications, differing expectations, or small details that were missed.

By following these tips, you will be able to complete your projects without a last-minute rush to meet a deadline. Understanding your resources, maintaining realistic schedules, and conducting regular meetings to make sure everyone is on the same page (without smothering the project with too much project management) are the keys to your projects’ success.

Do you want to know more about how WSOL’s team is able to plan successful projects? Do you have any project management tips of your own? Please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact us for more information about our web design and development processes. We’d love to hear from you!

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