Matthew  Williams Matthew Williams | 23 Aug 2023

In the fast-evolving landscape of web development, where every pixel and line of code can make or break a digital endeavour, the concept of risk mitigation has risen to the forefront as an embedded approach to successful project management. 

For larger, enterprise-level digital projects, the importance of recognising and addressing potential risk issues shouldn’t be overstated and we explain more in our blog post: Why CMO’s and Heads of Digital must mitigate risks within critical web projects. This article continues to dive deeper into the five key areas crucial to effective risk mitigation in web projects.

1. Documentation hasn’t been scrutinised 

At the heart of any well-executed web project lies a tower of comprehensive documentation. This repository of information not only outlines the project's blueprint but also acts as an insurance policy against unexpected setbacks. 

Clients and project stakeholders must dedicate time to meticulously scrutinise and provide sign-off on crucial documents, including:

  • Statement of Work (SOW): A foundational document outlining the project's scope, objectives, and potential risks, helping to align all parties involved from the outset.
  • Project Execution Plan (PEP): A roadmap that delineates the project's timeline, resources, and strategies for managing risks.
  • Discovery outputs: Insights garnered during the Discovery Phase, identifying findings that impact the project's direction and options.
  • Technical and functional specifications: Detailed technical requirements and functionalities, serving as a compass for the development team.
  • Test plan for User Acceptance Testing (UAT): A plan to validate that the project meets user expectations and functions flawlessly.
  • Hosting specification: Crucial technical specifications for hosting the web project.

2. There’s little to no discovery process

Rushing through the discovery phase of a web project is like setting sail without a navigational chart. This crucial step is not only beneficial for the client but also for the agency, providing a comprehensive understanding of the client's business and the project's landscape. 

It offers a unique opportunity for clients to uncover aspects they might not have initially realised were important. When we worked with TC Harrison Ford, we interrogated the landscape via a series of Discovery workshops with key internal stakeholders across the business to get a much deeper understanding of day-to-day challenges and pain points. 

The Discovery phase places a strong emphasis on understanding user types, their needs, journeys, and goals, paving the way for the establishment of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks to gauge project success.

3. Technology has been deployed in haste 

The technology powering a web project is its backbone, and hasty decisions in this area can lead to costly consequences down the line (which we see time and time again!). Thorough due diligence in selecting the appropriate platform or Content Management System (CMS) is imperative. We wrote a blog post about this too!

A poor choice may result in being locked into an unsuitable system for years, and yes there is the option of re-platforming rather than rebuilding down the line but both are still expensive endeavours. 

Implementing a structured platform selection process, such as Quba's five-stage approach (Audit - Assess - Review - Demo - Select) ensures that the technology aligns seamlessly with the project's goals, saving valuable time and resources.

4. There’s been an unconsidered approach to content and migration

Content is often the unsung hero of web projects, playing a pivotal role in user engagement, retention and delivering results.

Simply repurposing existing content may lead to lacklustre results. 

We come at content from a few angles in our Discovery process:

  • What’s already being used online?
  • What else is available from across the organisation?
  • Where are the gaps?
  • How are we going to migrate existing data and content onto the new platform?

The problems often start to show during content migration and fit within the new CMS. Larger projects necessitate a content audit and migration plan. Loading content into the new CMS manually can be very time-consuming so you need to choose an agency with the expertise and know how to handle large scale content migration tasks.

5. No due-diligence when it comes to governance 

Effective governance acts as the North Star guiding a web project toward its successful completion. This includes:

Establishing clear pathways: By defining clear reporting formats, you create a shared language that keeps stakeholders informed, ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Communication bridges: Transparent communication channels act as bridges, connecting teams, stakeholders, and clients. When these channels are ambiguous or non-existent, misunderstandings multiply, potentially leading to misaligned expectations and project derailment.

Timelines as beacons: Without clearly defined timelines, tasks can become muddled, deadlines missed, and the project's overall trajectory jeopardised.

Project management software: Lack of adoption or misuse of such tools can result in disarray, with tasks slipping through the cracks and project progression hindered. A built in risk register and change management process will reduce scope creep.

Meeting frequencies: Regular check-ins and meetings are like navigational waypoints, ensuring that the project is on track. It helps to avoid missed opportunities for course correction, potentially causing issues to fester unnoticed.

These are five things we’ve learnt to avoid web project disasters and the most crucial aspects of risk mitigation. The success of a web project hinges on the delicate balance between professional project management practices and a risk-aware, collaborative process - particularly in a digital world fraught with uncertainties! 

If risk mitigation is an embedded approach throughout your project, you’ll minimise threats that might cause a project to fail and it ensures project managers and stakeholders remain in control of the project schedule, budget and quality. 

You’re invited:

We’re putting on a free online event (How to de-risk your brand’s next web project and deliver ultimate success) where we bring together top Marketing and IT leaders at revolutionary brands who went on their own web journeys. 

They’ll share their authentic stories on how to de-risk, what it takes to achieve success, what trappings to avoid, and how to spot (plus remedy) the first signs of trouble. 

Sign up here

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