Not an unusual thing to hear in our game. And it’s far from surprising when you read the statistics on project failures:

According to a 2017 report from the Project Management Institute (PMI), 14 percent of IT projects fail. “However, that number only represents the total failures. Of the projects that didn’t fail outright, 31 percent didn’t meet their goals, 43 percent exceeded their initial budgets, and 49 percent were late.”

According to many people, “anyone can build a website”. There’s no denying that DIY website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and make it easy to whip up a basic website these days.

But can anyone build a commercial-grade website that delivers to the business’s goals on time and on budget, while ensuring it’s secure, fast, well-optimised and up to best-practice web standards? No, that’s the hard part.

We always debrief as a team after every major project, and when a project hasn’t gone as we’d hoped, the same learnings arise just about every time.

The usual suspects are:

  • Inadequate capture of requirements
  • Inadequate communication, including signoff processes
  • Changes, and management of them
  • Insufficient testing

It’s not that we are slow learners; it’s that doing the work can be really hard. The computers are actually the easy part. When problems arise, 9 times out of 10 it’s people-related.

Naturally, when a project fails or doesn’t go as planned, the finger is usually pointed at the supplier:

“You’re the expert. You should have known what you were doing.”
“What do you mean it’s out of scope? I assumed you knew we wanted that thing”
“Why isn’t it working on IE 6 on my WindowsXP, I tested it on my iPhone X”…

Sometimes the fault is 100% with the supplier, and hopefully – if they are responsible professionals – they will put their hand up, take responsibility and fix it at no cost.

But it’s important to understand that any project, website or otherwise, carries a joint responsibility between client and supplier.

As a client, you know your business better than any supplier, and you have as many responsibilities to ensure the successful delivery of any project as the supplier.

If your project has gone pear-shaped, it’s highly likely that you haven’t ticked all these boxes:

  • Did you do your homework on whether the supplier was a good fit for you? Did they have experience in similar projects and a track record of delivering successful jobs for happy clients?
  • Did you give the supplier all the information they needed at the beginning of the project? Your suppliers are only as good as the information you give them.
  • Did you understand the scope of work and what you were agreeing to? And did you ask questions about what was not in scope, and why?
  • Did you commit enough time and resources (and the right people) to manage and deliver the project from your end?
  • Did you understand the process – what was required from you, and when – and did you follow it?
  • Did you do your own thorough quality control checks and tests before the project was deployed?

Sounds hard, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. But ultimately your website project is your responsibility – and you need to be satisfied that you understand the project and that you make sure everything is working to your satisfaction. The success of your business depends on it.

Web projects can be complex and time-consuming. It’s hard to know the right questions to ask, and for some businesses, even though the project is tagged as a ‘high-priority’, it can prove too much to manage in-house when ‘business as usual’ and putting out fires takes almost every minute of every day.

That’s when you need an experienced project manager to take care of it for you. I have managed more than 5000 web projects in my career and if you have a project that is going pear-shaped, or if it’s important that you get a new project off to a good start and keep it going that way – get in touch. I’ll be happy to help.