The key moments that can make or break your project.

On 24 / 03 / 2023 / by Maarten Cox

We've all been there, wondering what went wrong or how the project could have gone better or smoother. In this post we identify the crucial moments which can make or break a project and provide some tips on how to handle them.

Signing the contract

This one feels like cheating because you haven't even started the project. Nonetheless, getting it right from the start is essential. Make sure you and your client both have a signed agreement that details the scope, approach, timings and budget of the project. Provide them with your general terms and conditions and ensure that your client understands and approves them so the context of your partnership is clear for everyone involved.

The Kick-off

The kick-off meeting is the ideal place and time to ensure the rest of your project flows smoothly. We use this meeting to address the following:

  1. Responsibilities and decision-making

  2. Communication channels and protocols

  3. Default timings (e.g. for reviews)

  4. Expectation management

  5. Risks and risk mitigation

Our goal for this meeting is to get an overview of who's involved in the project and what their responsibilities and expectations are. The core team should have the mandate to move the project forward on their own and knows which people to consult or inform.

We also try to get a view of any risks that could derail the project. This could be a key person's availability, an unknown data point or an organisational issue that could impact the project. If any risks are identified, we define a risk mitigation plan to diminish the possible impact of the defined risks.

Internal briefing and reviews

Internal briefings and reviews are often forgotten or treated as an afterthought. Don't skimp on these! They are the perfect occasion to include and involve your team members. Look at your process and pinpoint the best times to let people share what they've learned or created and get feedback. It's not only about making sure there aren't any mistakes. Often these moments lead to spontaneous improvements just because somebody else looks at it from a different or fresh perspective!

At Born Digital we have daily stand ups in the morning so everyone knows what everyone else is working on. After the stand up there is time for break-outs so people can discuss certain projects or topics in detail.

Client reviews

When working towards a review with the client, ask yourself: "What do I want to validate, and what is the best way to present this to the client so we can have a meaningful conversation?"

Remind yourself it's not about the deliverable. It's about the problem you need to solve or explore and find the best way to communicate your solution to a client who is not necessarily trained in reading wireframes or diagrams.

What do we want to validate, and what is the best way to present this to the client so we can have a meaningful conversation

Maarten Cox / UX Lead

Moving between phases

When moving from the analysis to the design phase or design to development, it's always a good time to take a moment with the team. Use this time to evaluate the previous stage and check how the team thinks they are doing and how the project is going. Can the core team move on, or should we make any course corrections?

We work with self-steering and self-documenting teams. That means that whoever is working on a part of the project is responsible for documenting that part and calling in the team to review that work and brief the people who are working on it next.

Acceptance Testing

This project phase can get messy very quickly, so pay extra attention! When the product or a part of the product is ready to get tested by the client, make sure to have a sound system in place to guide them. Let them know what you expect from them, what they should test and what's not ready yet, how to report feedback and what the expected response times are from both sides.

We use the story map that has been documented by the teams throughout the projects as the basis for acceptance testing. Our customer take a story, test it and either provide feedback or accept it. When all stories are accepted, the project is delivered!

Hopefully, these key moments help you prevent possible pitfalls for your project. Of course, every project has its own key moments, so always try to spot these moments and use them to turn possible problems into opportunities!