Managing Technical Projects. What I’ve learnt so far

Being a web developer for approximately seven years has meant that I have some experience in managing technical projects to some degree. This includes working with clients of various sizes: big, small, startups and side-hustles. Including my own side-hustle business too.

What I learnt fairly quickly when dealing with clients on a more face-to-face level is that they can find it difficult to ask for they want. Usually, it is because they have an idea for a site or a system, but when it comes to the UX and UI and the overall functionality is where the issues can occur. Knowing what they want can be the main issue. And when the client doesn’t know what they want, you are going to find it difficult to produce the correct result, and will most likely mean that you will be going round in circles.

What I found is that the more meetings, and discussions that take place before a project is started, the better. If you are given a vague brief, with a vague timeline, then most likely you will get a vague looking development team (and possibly design team too). This can cause scope creep.

Preventing Scope Creep

As mentioned, have as many calls and meetings before a project begins. You should ask questions such as:

  • What is the goal of the project?
  • Do you have branding guidlines and what colour schemes are to be used?
  • What are the main requirements for launch
  • Who is the target audience or who is going to use it?
  • What platforms will this need to support?
  • Do you have a design to how it should work and function?
  • What are the disability requirements?

Of course, there is likely to be more questions that you can ask, but these are perhaps the main key questions to ask. Once you are comfortable with the answers and you feel that the deadline is reasonable then it is done to you and your team (unless you are a solo entrepreneur) to deliver the results to the best of your abilities.

Working in an Agile Way

Adopting an agile methodology is ideal in tech projects today. I have used and also introduced using kanban boards. There are various project management systems and kanban boards available such as Jira, Trello, MesiterTask and SharePoint. Depending on your needs and budget it is best to try a few out and see what works best for you and your team. Essentially a kanban board is an easy way of splitting tasks into stages. For example, you might have four columns in your kanban board for a project: To-do, doing, QA, and completed. Each column will show where the project is and what needs to be done.

SCRUMS and stand-ups are also essential. These are brief meetings that showcase where how it is progressing, and if more time is needed. I also like working in sprints; these are usually two-week deadlines, and at the end, a set amount of tasks should have been completed. Of course, if scope creeps occur then it is fair that the deadline can be pushed back.

Communication

Just to add from the last section; communicating with your team client is essential. If you think that a deadline is not going to be hit, or that you need more resources, requirements and assets (imagery, videos, text copy) then say… Or forever hold your peace.

And on that note, peace out. Have fun managing technical projects.

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