It is quite disturbing that in the era of the internet, mobile devices, the costs associated with infrastructure, technology and the like, that many people have a misunderstanding of what development actually entails.
Over the last few years, many have an attitude of “just put a website together for me” or “just build me an app” without wanting to interact much or provide a few key meetings or information. Unfortunately, as of late, I am starting to reject those projects that bring that mentality to the table. No it is not just about profits, although the ultimate goal for any business is that. It is about peace-of-mind, job satisfaction and reputation as well.
Consider this scenario. A prospective client approaches and say, “Gallo, put a website together for my company and make it look nice!”. Ok, let’s schedule an initial meeting, let’s discuss their vision, strategy if any, and requirements, or let’s help them hone in on their requirements…. No let’s not bother with all that, let’s just get something together.
Lately this has happened 3 times in the last month. Unfortunately, I could only avoid one of those projects.
In the end, not only will the project suffer as it will be misdirected, but when the client will be unhappy, it will be my reputation on the line. Furthermore, it will be more tiring and time-consuming work to “fix” the project if I am still engaged to handle the project.
Ultimately, businesses spend extravagant figures to simply upgrade the look and feel of a project, such as intranets, extranets or websites and their apps, but do not consider that the most crucial part of any project is the planning phase.
My suggestions would be to follow a process similar to this:
- Meet the prospective client – this is useful in building rapport, adding a “human touch” to the experience
- Assess or help assess requirements – will the project be used within the organization, what are considerations regarding data-mining, will it be a public site used for informative purposes or will you look at generating revenue or leads?
- Mutual agree to a project scope – even if it means going away from the meeting, assessing the information at hand, and coming back to the client to give a proposal
- Develop mockups to illustrate general expectations, look-and-feel and functionality
- Allow for sign-offs and milestones – ensure that both parties are protected. Personally, I prefer to have an initial deposit, and milestones for payments and sign-offs. This will ensure you are covered for work done, and the client has an invested interest to see the project through.
- Testing and implementation – This may be self-explanatory, however it is a major part of the final steps in ensuring a project is approaching a close
- Allow for margins for unexpected events, bugs or other factors
- Consider a short period of waived work to touch-up a few things once the project is finished
- Both parties to leave happy!
These are obviously not set in stone, but are a few general quick considerations for application or website development projects based on my experiences.