10 top tips for project delivery

The success of any project – whether in web design or other disciplines – hinges on the maturity of the delivery processes and practices at play within the organisation. 

So what are the fundamentals of a good delivery and how can you go about achieving them? Here are 10 project delivery tips to help your team to impress clients with well-researched products that deliver on the brief – and then some.

01. Win the right projects

The sales and delivery team need to work together to win the right shaped projects and clients, and involve the delivery team as much as possible in proposal writing, pitches and estimates.

Before you get started on a new project, run a one-day workshop to check it’s feasible from a technical, financial and design perspective. There, challenge assumptions and talk openly about any risks that arise for that project.

02. Know your client 

Before the workshop, send a project approach questionnaire to the product owner asking them to honestly ‘Agree’ or ‘Disagree’ with a list of statements that you believe will help the project be a success, such as: “You’re able to take full proactive ownership of the project.”

Discuss areas where you’re concerned they won’t be able to fulfil the role and ensure a mitigation plan is in place before continuing with the project.

03. Start with a research phase

Gain a thorough understanding of the topics in order to develop the right plan of action

Gain a thorough understanding of the topics in order to develop the right plan of action

Once you’re happy that you’re a good match, start with a discovery phase to explore the goals and business objectives of the project. Talk to stakeholders and users, and follow up with further research where required. Nothing contributes to project success more than providing a team with a clear set of goals and insights based on real user needs.

04. Establish clear roles

Define project roles and responsibilities early. This shouldn’t be a box-ticking exercise and should include the internal team as well as the client. Explore what team members expect from each other and write them into a team charter so that everyone knows what they’re accountable for on the project.

05. Use a transparent process

When projects lack structure, they lack direction and control. A process isn’t one-size-fits-all, but consistency helps. Be clear on what elements of your process are non-negotiable and make sure you hold teams accountable to them.

06. Trust your teams

Show some faith and let each team perform their task

Show some faith and let each team perform their task

You employ experts for a reason, so make sure you build a structure that supports self-organising teams. Define the problems, constraints and project objectives well, then trust the team to deliver a solution that works within these parameters. If at all possible, maintain a consistent team throughout the project.

07. Engage your team

If the people doing the work aren’t engaged, you’ll have a hard time making good practices stick. Delivery is human work, so build fun into the process. Engagement is a byproduct of teams being able to take ownership of the issues they see on the project and of fixing them.

08. Regularly review the health of your projects

One way to do this is to have a bi-weekly call with your client asking them four simple questions: What’s going well on the project for you? What worries you? What do we need to do differently? On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that the project will succeed and deliver your goals? By having honest conversations about the project on a regular basis, you can nip problems in the bud.

09. Listen, learn and iterate 

At Deeson, where I'm delivery lead, we have three agile coaches within the agency who perform regular team assessments. These are written in acceptance criteria format. For example, “Do the team know they’re on track to deliver everything in a sprint?” Discussions around these criteria help identify areas where the team could benefit from further support and coaching. Common pitfalls are captured on a company-wide Trello board and goals are set to address the root causes.

10. Celebrate

Enjoy your success and share it as a team

Enjoy your success and share it as a team

Nancy Lyons once said project management is like oxygen: you only notice it when it isn’t there. As a result, it’s often under-valued, so take the time to celebrate project achievements, happy clients and advancements in your company’s process.

This article was originally published in issue 296 of net magazine, the magazine for professional web designers and developers – offering the latest new web trends, technologies and techniques. Buy issue 296 here or subscribe to net here.

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Holly is Delivery Lead at Deeson, Europe’s leading open-source software agency. She’s the founder of the UK’s largest digital PM Slack community.