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blog of developer & bookworm benjamin read

Maintaining Goodwill on Difficult Projects

It's been great to work with some excellent developers recently, but on one or two occasions, like all of us at some point, we've had relationships with clients and sometimes suppliers, that have been tested. How can we avoid things that could potentially derail a project in progress? How can we keep staff motivated past the pain points of difficult development and changing requirements?

The keys are Time, Money and Good Will.

Getting Our Money's Worth

I'm going to come right out and say it: we all want our money's worth from a project. As well as a great end product we want to see a good return for our money. We also want to see our project delivered on time, too.

But the trouble for our partners in digital development comes when we're squeezed too much.

Good Will Hunting

You naturally come into a project feeling positive (or most of us do!): the potential for being involved in something you can be proud of is exciting, working with a new client is exhilarating, your product owner has extolled the virtues of this client really well.

That's a really good start.

If the project requirements keep changing rapidly, even dramatically, in stage 3 of feedback ... months after the initial scope was agreed and designs were drawn up. If the designs keep changing, after weeks of forbearance, designers and developers can rapidly lose interest in doing a good job.

Code quality begins to suffer ... designers start to do sloppy work without due consideration ... and the project comes off worse for it.

The key thing—the most important thing—you could lose at that point is good will.

Help Others Maintain a Positive Outlook

Can designers & developers engaged on a product be called stakeholders too? I argue that they can—at this tender stage they might be the most important ones to nurture. So it's key to maintain positive communication with the client (as far as it depends on you), and try to get those involved spurred on to complete the project to the standard that's required.

Where can you compliment them on a great delivery? What innovation have they come up with? What have developers, designers and you learned from the project?

Is there anything you can do to talk to the product owner to resolve the situation? The key here is open communication with those on the client side too.

Asking these key questions may get you and the product owner thinking more positively so that good will keeps flowing on your project, to satisfactory completion.