It goes without saying that in any bespoke software development success of a project and its timely delivery depend on strong communication activity between the development team and customer’s representatives. In practice, however, we often face challenges caused by a lack of proper communication during a project that leads to negative consequences.
In bespoke software development of small and medium-sized projects which are managed with waterfall methodology and paid a fixed price, communication between customer and executor becomes a bottleneck. As a rule, the customer side is represented by a business owner himself or an appointed manager who’s, in addition to his main responsibilities, delegated a new project which he deals with alone.
At one time, we were working on the project of an e-commerce project, and there was a manager on the customer side who was overwhelmed with his main operations so much that our project manager had to call around for him, trying to get the answers to his questions and requesting access to resources.
The situation improved as soon as two assistants were assigned to the manager. They were constantly in touch, answering our questions and helping us deliver the project in time. Unfortunately, lack of communication at the initial phase of project development, including communication issues within the customer’s team itself, postponed the launch of the project for 3 months, as some important details were gradually appearing and needed some improvements. This all could have been avoided if communications had initially been built on a regular and systematic basis within the project.
Somehow or other, this is just one of the possible cases when bad communication can lead to project delay or further rework. To avoid negative consequences, we have identified 5 habits indicating possibly ineffective communication:
1. Lack of real-life communication. Communication is performed only by Email or Task Tracking systems in question-answer mode. However, face-to-face communication, small-talks at the beginning of the conversation allow you to get in the right mood and people find it easier to negotiate and find solutions together to even the most difficult tasks.
2. Irregular and spontaneous meetings. Lack of regular calls or meetings reduces the tempo of the project participants, which can subsequently lead to unjustified expectations.
3. Too formalized communication makes it more complicated to interact within the project. Sure thing, monitoring must take place, but project management is about teamwork between customers and developers. When a developer can get a response from the customer, generating new ideas, and ways of solving problems become faster and easier.
4. Participants do not take responsibility for solving tasks (which are) under discussion, or new initiatives or don’t want to be challenged with new issues. As a result, communication turns into just an exchange of opinions. Based on the results of every meeting, it is necessary to determine tasks and responsible executors, as well as deadlines. Ideally, write down the promises in a general document that will be available for all participants.
5. Absence or irregular presence of all interested persons (stakeholders) at regular calls or meetings during the project implementation. It can lead to missed deadlines or unaccounted vital details that should have been considered and implemented at the earlier stages of the project.
As a rule, we propose to a customer to discuss and determine the process of communication and make it effective and on a regular basis. Luckily, now more and more customers understand the importance of this aspect and are ready for it.
Direct communication, the possibility to offer different and more optimal solutions, receive honest feedback within a reasonable time – these are our ideals in communication on the project. Working like this brings joy to both parties, which further leads to successful project delivery and gratitude of end-users. This is precisely our goal and our priority in work.