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Organisational Foresight & the Benefits of the Project Pack

Written by - 31/01/2017

As project managers, Daniel and I are constantly thinking of ways in which to improve how projects are run at WDL. We want to ensure that projects are successful and run smoothly, from the handover from New Business to Production, up to the launch of a new website.

For several months now we have been using a document/strategy that we put together designed to outline every eventuality alongside what we already know at the beginning of a project. The idea being to alleviate any client concerns and to come to an agreement about how a project is going to proceed. The Project Pack helps us to keep on top of what’s required in order to meet project specifications and it also helps clients understand how and why we work the way we do at WDL.

The Project Pack is created before a project begins but is added to and tweaked as necessary throughout a project duration. During the project Kick-Off Meeting, Daniel or I will run through the whole document with the client in order to be able to answer any immediate questions. The document is then supplied to the client following the meeting and updated versions provided as and when necessary. We also arrange a weekly standing meeting/phone call to run through the current project phase, the upcoming stage of the project as well as any delays or issues that have cropped up. We find this to be very useful and it keeps everybody involved on the right tracks.

The document itself contains a number of things, including the project proposal which has been previously agreed and accepted, as well as the site features that are to be considered throughout the design. We like to include this information in the Project Pack as well as run through the site features during the Kick-Off Meeting so that both parties are in agreement and understand what is going to be delivered. We may also include any specified site exclusions just to avoid any unwanted confusion further down the line & look to include and reiterate the project goals that may have already been confirmed by the client and discussed during the project discovery stages.

We look to include a provisional project schedule. This is also explained, in detail, during the project Kick-Off Meeting. At this point, we like to find out whether the client has any upcoming holidays or will be unavailable on the dates we have specified for things such as presentations and training. This schedule does allow for some flexibility but more often than not, the schedule reflects the lead time and project duration which has been specified in the quote. Sometimes, the schedule does alter due to circumstances out of our control but we always look to revise it and update the client accordingly and at the earliest opportunity. We also try to add considerable buffers where possible which we strive to beat.

Next up, is the notes taken during the Kick-Off Meeting; in this section of the pack, we may include some questions which need to be considered by the client. We may include some things or information from the client so it is important that these are read carefully, we may also need to update the notes or add to them if a client feels we have misunderstood something or missed some integral to the project. Alongside the notes from the meeting are the Operational Guidelines that either Daniel, or myself will run through with the client. These are things which are likely to have been covered previously whilst the project was going through the Discovery Phase with one of our New Business Consultants but we like to reiterate the way we work here at WDL and our reasons behind our processes. It’s important that our clients are willing to follow our processes as, with our experience, we do know that a project is more successful when they’re followed.

We like to include some operational guidelines which somewhat reiterate a couple of our WDL processes also. During the Project Kick Off Meeting, Daniel or I will run through these guidelines with the client to ensure that it’s understood what to expect during the project duration. These guidelines include things such as what we expect in terms of feedback on the work we deliver, an explanation of our rigorous quality assurance practice as well as payment milestones. There should be no surprises in regards to anything detailed here, as everything is to be actioned at some point in the project.

Lastly, we include a general breakdown of each stage of a WDL project. This section includes an explanation of Information Architecture, Design, Development and Support. This area of the Project Pack is quite useful in the sense that all questions are answered and it acts as a general overview of the project and what to expect.

The Project Pack allows us to work on a project following a set structure that benefits both WDL and our clients, and we hope that implementing it in all future projects will allow for us to work to the successfully high standard that WDL strive towards