Why your digital project will never be fast, good and cheap

This old project maxim is new to many small business operators. 

For any professional project manager, the time, quality and affordability triad is something they would have learned about in one of their first lessons at university.

It holds that for any professional project, you can only have two of these three options, because one will surely give.

In other words, you can have quality and timeliness, but you can’t have affordability. Or you can have affordability and quality, but not timeliness.

Another way of putting this is that you can have two out of fast, good and cheap, but not all three.

However, small business budgets often dictate that because the cost is relatively low, either quality or timeliness will also have to give — and possibly both.

Digital projects often the first exposure

For many in small business, a website or digital marketing project is often the first time they have been exposed to this equation.

Unlike the provider of the service, who has usually had many years exposure to, and experience of, managing it.

So why is it important that the smaller business operator understand this equation?

Quite simply, it’s the determinant of a successful project, be that digital or otherwise.

Cost and time constraints

The problem for the smaller business operator is that not only are they often limited by budget, but they are also time poor and usually don’t have a resource dedicated to the project.

Like every non-core activity they must undertake, the project in question is often at the mercy of how much business is on at the time of the project.

And usually this takes priority over pretty much everything else for fairly understandable reasons.

Tips for new project players

So what can the smaller business operator do to ensure their project comes in on time, on budget and with the required quality?

That’s a tough question to answer when the resources and skills available to the smaller business operator are so diverse.

But essentially it boils down to the following guidelines:

  1. 1. Ensure you have sufficient cash reserves to pay the project costs outlined on time. Timely payment will ensure the project moves through the process smoothly and keep the supplier enthusiasm up. The alternative — slow payments — will only add impediments to progress and result in a less happy working relationship;
  2. 2. Have a strict schedule and stick to it. Delays at any stage of the project will just push back the completion date and frustrate all concerned, particularly if payments are due on certain milestones. This may mean some late nights but the sacrifice will be worth it as your project is delivered on time and its benefits yielded;
  3. 3. Take the advice of your provider. It’s amazing how many times smaller business operators believe they know better than their often very experienced provider when it comes to professional projects. In most cases, your provider will have managed hundreds of projects and knows how to extract the best results for your budget. So tap into this wisdom and reap the benefits of a smooth and timely project;
  4. 4. Don’t scrimp on detail. Most professional projects have ‘stage-gates’ to ensure that all inputs are correct and have been checked and approved. A missed detail early in the process can lead to a significant problem if trying to reverse it later. So make sure you have perused any plans or drafts with a fine tooth comb to ensure they are 100% correct; and
  5. 5. Get as much ‘on paper’ as possible. The old ‘fail to plan, plan to fail’ mantra is never truer than with professional projects. By getting as much detail into your ‘on paper’ plans and drafts, you will avoid expensive changes to the actual ‘real life’ version of the development being worked on.

Embracing these five habits of successful projects will ensure your project is as smooth as possible and allow you to get on with what you do best.

Be sure to employ them for your next project, digital or otherwise.

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