By: Jeremy Brochue

Date: February 8, 2017

Sometimes a pressing timeline or using a unique CMS means finding outside experts to round out missing skills to complete a project. Sometimes it means working with a client’s in-house design or development team. There are always hang-ups, pitfalls, and snags to any well-planned project, but whatever the team structure is, there are a few essentials to knitting the pieces together into a successful project.


Avoiding digital project risks

Clarify roles and set expectations

One of the first and most critical steps to ensuring a project’s success is establishing clear roles and expectations. Creating clear lines of responsibility will avoid any overlap of roles and establish a hierarchy for how issues will be addressed and communicated. Anticipating and planning for all the roles in the project allows the collective team to know what they will be responsible for and removes the need for any assumptions. With a bit of work upfront, there won’t be any question about what each member of the team needs to do.

No one works well without direction, especially on a collaborative project. Set roles and expectations early to provide direction for the project ahead.

Project timeline and work back schedule

A well-formed and thorough timeline will save a lot of headaches. The project timeline should be a high-level view of the project including key dates like holidays, vacations, project kick-off, and launch.

In addition, creating (and constantly updating) a more granular work back schedule with specific tasks and deliverable hand-off dates will keep the project on time and on budget. Confirming the project timeline and work back schedule with all of the stakeholders sets an understanding of accountability from the start.

To mitigate the risk of missed milestones, confirm the timeline and work back schedule from the start and revisit often.

Working with vendor partners

Tight timelines or, for instance, complications with shopping cart functionality can throw a wrench in otherwise well-laid plans. Removing the risks in these situations requires knowing what your team and partners are capable of doing (and how fast).

If your project requires you to work with new partners, be sure to check references and past projects to better measure their skillsets.  Assessing their work will allow you to highlight their strengths while building solutions into the project for any shortcomings. With a thorough vetting of your partner’s work and reference list, you will know the limits of what your partners are capable of creating.

At Subtext, we often work with our clients and their agency partners across multiple projects. We have found that documenting past projects, reviewing, and over-communicating with partners helps keep issues from reoccurring and ensuring future projects are seamless.

Be explicit in what you need and exacting in what you accept.

Feedback and QA notes

When it comes to feedback, clarity is key. That may mean keeping feedback brief for the final round of design, or it may mean providing extremely specific notes for issues found during quality assurance testing. Here are four keys to keeping feedback simple and clear:

  1. Consolidate feedback from all stakeholders and distil it into one document to better guide revisions
  2. Provide context for your feedback, it may not always be clear what is being referenced.
  3. Provide examples: tone of voice, formatting, colors, shapes, etc.
  4. Feedback should be concise, actionable, and timely.

While it can take time to provide effective feedback, keep in mind that unclear or scattered feedback only makes things more difficult.  

Make it specific. Keep it objective. Don’t be ambiguous.

In Conclusion

No project is perfect. There is always something that occurs or happens that the best prepared and structured project cannot avoid. Planning and anticipating issues can minimize the impact on timeline and budget.
At Subtext, we take great pride in the skills we have mastered, but we are also keenly aware of where our skills are lacking. It is this introspective (and ego-free) element that allows us to thrive in collaborative projects and rally our collective team to win the day.