Picture this. You start a project with one very clearly defined idea, you start the build, and several conversations, emails, phone calls, texts and meetings later you end up with a completely different adaptation of what you believed at one point to be your very clear idea.
Scope creep is the scourge of projects for both clients & agencies. By its very nature it can cause heated discussions and in some isolated cases irreparable damage to the relationship that exists between them. This is not a situation that either a client and especially an agency would want to find themselves in and it is something that we have worked over the years to identify and prevent for ourselves and or our clients. We always recommend that a level of contingency is built in to a project from the beginning in the event of a change of scope. We introduced web project discovery services to help us overcome the scope creep challenge and it has proven to be a big hit with our clients. following discovery, we also consider frequent check points to be an important ingredient in the make up of any successful project.
With well over 1000 successful projects delivered we will freely admit to having projects that didn’t go according to plan . Any agency that claims to offer a 100% success probably has a unique idea of what constitutes success.
Our teams have discussed scope creep at length over lunch ; on good days, on bad days , with our peers in marketing, and even with our clients and four common themes emerge:
- The decision maker not present at the beginning of a project.
Beware the MD that leaves the intern to build the website, the kind of “leader” who believes anyone in their late teens and early 20’s is a web project manager by default simply because they grew up on “the facebook”. If a key decision maker enters the project in the late stages it can be a costly affair to meet their expectations and if it means going back over the plan to make changes to decisions already made. We had a situation before our discovery process where a marketing executive forgot to mention that their website, portrayed as a brochure site, was actually an e-commerce site. The subsequent conversation with the managing director can be expressed with the following image.a
2. New stakeholders entering the project at a late stage
We always make a point of outlining deadlines and meetings in our specifications and proposals to discuss project progress. We also emphasise the importance of outlining key decision makers from the very beginning. If someone enters at a later stage they may have new and different ideas of how a project should look. This means going back to the drawing board on a site that is not complete and therefore the site cannot make its full impact. From our perspective we only get one chance at a good first impression. This person may also have uncovered an issue in the middle of a build that wasn’t discussed or was overlooked. (Remember the angry lion?)
Finally it’s not always an internal stakeholder; sending your half-finished website to your mates for feedback will merely plant seeds of doubt in your head. There are tried and tested methodologies for user acceptance testing and we would recommend using them. The site specified in discovery and planning stages follows best practices and ensures that we cover every aspect of your business to work for you online. But agencies require patience from their clients before making judgement calls on an unfinished site.
3. Be prepared to change your website
If there was one thing that we had to encourage companies to do in the mid to closing stages of a project, it would be this. Though it might sound trivial at first consider the amount of content, branding material, imagery and so on that needs to be on the site for the launch date. A bare bones site with no content does not reflect well for either the client or the agency and most importantly does not encourage a visitor to return.
4. Sometimes Agencies Make Mistakes
We have done, and we will again! It could be an oversight, an underestimation of the timeline, a simple or complex error of omission, a missing semicolon or a bad day; any agency that hasn’t made a mistake hasn’t learned anything valuable from their project experiences. Mistakes will happen from time to time, particularly when you consider the complexity of building a site and making sure that it is ethically and successfully marketed. However, through our many years of service improvement we’ve seen most of them and dealt with each of them.
These 4 points have led us to creating our own agile-based development methodology with a strong emphasis on assessing a client’s needs. Customised and appropriate technology creation, rigorous QA and post launch support are the basis of this life-cycle. It doesn’t matter if you are a highly knowledgeable technical company or you haven’t the faintest idea of where to start, our process is not filling out forms. It’s a granular look into your business offline and how to create your online marketplace to stamp out a digital footprint.
(P.S Please do not write to us about the last image, it’s intended to be a joke and we know our sci-fi in this office)