Truth be told there is no single answer. It’s a combination of good practices, people, motivations and planning. Given our 16 h workdays, we were forced to take some of our development practices to extremes and unblock our team members every few hours. Here are seven simple things you can do to keep your projects on track.
1. Set short milestones with well-defined deliverables
Deadlines drive people. Break down your project into smaller features and components and prepare a plan of how you would implement them. Create a weekly or biweekly release calendar and assign concrete deliverables for each release. Each deliverable should have a clear definition and an accountable person. This way you will drive productivity up week by week.
2. Discuss risks and challenges early on
If it itches, scratch it! Discuss challenges as early as you can. This way your team members will be aware of it and can contribute to finding a solution. Sometimes you’ll discover magical solutions just by talking to your team about the challenges. Do not hide issues under the carpet as they will only get bigger and eventually blow up.
As entrepreneurs and project managers, we take risks every day and it’s hard to avoid them. The trick is to take calculated risks where your hard work can make up for the unknowns.
3. Communicate frequently with your team and stakeholders
Lack of communication is one of the major causes of frustration in projects. Make sure you communicate with your team frequently and that everyone is on the same page in terms of expectations, feature requirements, and the project schedule. A lot of issues can be resolved or completely avoided just by communicating more. If you have a remote team, you might even want to communicate as often as daily. It’s also important to make sure that your team members are talking to each other.
4. Learn to say “No” to features
Scope creep can kill a project! Learn to say no to features that are low priority and do not add to your product’s bottom-line. It will be hard at first, but once you get used to saying “no” a few times you’ll see how it lets you focus better on items that matter.
5. Do not stress out your team
I think there is a fine line between working hard and working so hard that you become counterproductive. You should try to understand where this line is for your team and do everything you can to not stress out your team members.
6. Release early betas and prototypes
Release early betas or prototypes to a friendly group of testers. The sooner your software gets in the hands of your users the sooner you will start receiving bug reports and improvement ideas. Users do things on a website that you cannot even imagine of.
7. Know the Project Triangle
Three key aspects of any project are cost, scope, and time. The project triangle says that you can only control two out of these three parameters in a project and will have to compromise on the third parameter.
Even though it’s a bit dated and projects nowadays have a lot more variables, the project triangle gives you a simplistic view of what to expect when there are changes in any of these parameters.
I hope the above tips are useful and that you are able to use them in your next project and have a successful launch on time and on budget.
What other tricks are you using to keep your projects on track? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.