Most clients embarking on a web development project probably feel that it is not their job to keep the project on track and regard the suggestion as surprising. They probably feel that the responsibility for keeping things on track lies squarely at the feet of the vendor, in effect that the project should, by definition, be on track. However like any relationship it is a two way street and both sides have to accept levels of responsibility, when this happens there is a much better chance that the relationship will work better.
The classic project management triangle of Scope, Time and Money that you learn in Project Management 101 is sometimes difficult to communicate to clients in the heat of a project but it does ring true that changing one element typically effects the others. So a basic grasp of this concept can help clients understand the dynamics at play. On a project as the client or key stakeholder there are things that are inside your control and things that are outside, focusing on what is inside your control what can you do?
We live in a world of lean and agile development of which we are big fans, however ill thought through requirements, a fuzzy understanding of what you want to achieve. or overlooking the details is guaranteed to result in an overshoot of deadlines. So the first responsibility here is communication, ensure that the vendor understands where you are coming from.
Another approach would be to get the vendor to talk through their understanding of your requirements – get them to communicate to you how they see the project. Ask them about the nitty gritty details of what you are trying to do – check to see that they really get it. Good vendors will make it their job to understand where you are coming from.
2) Insist on regular progress meetings.
Weeks can slip by fairly quickly and deadlines can come up on the horizon very fast, if the vendor does not offer it, demand regular progress meetings to see what the state of things are.
3) Stagger the payment structure.
Stagger the payment structure so that it correlates with the delivery and sign off of key milestones to your satisfaction.
4) Pay them fast
This might sound a little contradictory to the previous point but you want to build a relationship based on trust and mutual respect. I’ve observed that when we pay people fast, so they don’t have to ask for it, a couple of things happen. Firstly it impresses them and shows that you value them. Secondly it generally results in better service.
5) Ask what if?
Understand that a change in scope may affect the delivery timeframe. Taking an element out of a system has an impact on a project and as does putting something in, talk it through and weigh up the pros and cons