The mistake I most often make in launching a new project is that I start executing before I have a complete understanding of the work that needs to be done. Yes, I may understand the big idea (something like “We need to build a website with the ability to sell our products by the time those products are ready next January”), but I often lack the in-depth knowledge needed to fully understand all the moving parts.
- What does the accounting department need for this website to function properly? How will they receive deposits and reconcile them with the orders?
- How will the products be shipped to the customers who order from this website? Where is the inventory stored? Do we need payment confirmation before shipping?
- What do we want the user-experience to be? Are customers familiar with our products, or do we need to build sales and promotional videos in the website?
- Who is responsible for customer support? What happens if the product is defective and needs to be returned to us?
It is an unfortunate habit, but I often “BEGIN” without having all these answers. I never have comfortable margins for the project deadline…I always feel like I’m behind the moment I hear the starting pistol.
But, that is a critical mistake. I know better. And so should you.
Before the design and layout is ever begun…before the first line of software is ever written…before any work is ever initiated, go talk to the stakeholders who are most affected by your project:
- Who makes the decisions that control or influence the project budget?
- Who has authority to grant (or withhold) permission to proceed?
- Who directly benefits from (or is impacted by) the project and therefore need to know about it?
- Who has the people, money, or resources required to remove roadblocks or exert influence to ensure project success?
- Who has positive (or negative) energy that could affect the success of your project?
Once you know who they are, you are ready for the next step.
Thanks for listening.