Keeping a Pulse on Your Projects: A Guide to Evaluating Health and Profitability in Web Development

In project management, where almost half of projects fall short, monitoring project health is vital. This blog post provides tips on aligning budgets and timelines, ensuring team efficiency, gathering client feedback, and maintaining consensus on project progress to ensure success and satisfaction for all involved.

A somewhat not-so-well-known Project Management statistic is that an average of about 36–49% of projects fail to deliver on what was initially promised to customers. That’s a terrible statistic, and as someone who has spent years managing projects, it’s not one I want to be associated with.

In the dynamic world of web development, aligning project execution with business objectives is crucial. Working at an agency, ensuring that projects are not only completed to the client’s expectations but also profitable requires a vigilant approach. This blog post outlines a systematic method to evaluate your web development projects, focusing on financial alignment, project execution, client interaction, and team feedback. Truth be told, there are several factors that need to be considered to know if a project is on track or off track. As we look across our project, we ask ourselves a series of questions to help us make that call.

Projects lettering, lighting with colored gels
Photo by Octavian Dan on Unsplash

Financial Health Checks

It’s essential to ensure that invoicing schedules and project timelines are in harmony. Evaluate if adjustments are needed to reflect the project’s progress. For example, if we have completed 25% of the project milestones, we should have expended about 25% of the budget. If that is not the case, we need to understand why that might be and if we need to take measures to get those items in alignment.

Implementation Execution and Accuracy

Similarly, we regularly review the progress of the team by looking at several variables. Are the budgeted hours enough to complete the remaining backlog, considering not just development hours, but QA effort, our project ceremonies, and final testing and launch effort? What are the complex items, and what assumptions did we log when estimating that effort to the actual implementation? Are those assumptions holding, or were any new things uncovered along the way that we need to re-review and confirm with the client, potentially updating our estimate?

We have long considered our estimates to be just that, estimates. The work we do is very complex, and to hit a guess dead on is rarely ever going to happen. So, while we do concern ourselves with things going over-estimate, we are not worried if it is within a few hours. We would also expect to see some things going under-estimate and balance out. If we see trends going one way or the other, we look to course correct as we go forward. Along those same lines, we review the sprint run rate. Is the team putting in a consistent effort from sprint to sprint (in other words, do we know what our velocity is)? As the project gets close to completion, is the time trending downward? Epics should be completed, User Acceptance Testing (UAT) is well underway, and we are focused on final optimization, which means we should not necessarily be full steam ahead if all prior work was done as expected.

Every sprint has a set of goals we need to accomplish, mostly around completing and delivering features. However, some goals are higher-level, like making final decisions on future scope or directions, or possibly completing User Acceptance Testing. Are we (our team and our client) succeeding in meeting our goals, or are we falling short? If we are falling short and cannot make up that effort, what timeline and cost changes need to be made?

Client Interaction and Feedback

Speaking of user acceptance testing, is our client able to test and provide feedback on the functionality delivered at the end of each sprint? This interaction is crucial for both project success and client satisfaction. When the client is testing as we deliver, the cycle of feedback is quick and efficient. We know if what we have delivered has met their expectations. Likewise, if something was missed, or we find a higher than normal rate of bugs or issues reported by the client, that may indicate a need for improved quality assurance processes. A lack of testing will create bottlenecks in team velocity down the road or a potentially problematic UAT experience where a larger team is identifying issues or gaps in requirements that create a start/stop situation while things get fixed that could have been identified much earlier in the project life cycle.

Team Perspective and Consensus

Maybe a less specific way to tell if our project is on track or not is to gauge everyone’s perception of the project completion percentage. We ask them, “Based on what you know and what you are aware of, how far along do you think we are on this project, and why?” Variations in estimates can be a valuable discussion point and may help us determine if a change is needed in how we are running the project.

Managing the health and profitability of web development projects is not a one-time effort but an ongoing journey of continuous review and improvement. By regularly employing the evaluation methods outlined in this article—focusing on financial alignment, meticulous execution, dynamic client interaction, and cohesive team feedback—you can navigate the complexities of web development with greater confidence and efficiency. Remember, the goal is not just to cross the finish line but to do so in a way that maximizes client satisfaction, team morale, and business success.

About the Author

Mike Kren

Mike has been managing large-scale projects since 2006. His passion is bringing order to the chaos to keep everyone on the same page and the work moving forward. He has always enjoyed working as part of a team and believes that team includes clients too. Mike loves spending time with his wife, 4 kids, and his dog. He’s an avid film buff, amateur backpacker, and experimental cook, with flashes of brilliance around a pool table.

Subscribe to Our Blog

Stay up to date on what BizStream is doing and keep in the loop on the latest in marketing & technology.