How to Deal with Roadblocks During Your Development Project
When you’ve got a great idea for a development project, it’s exciting just thinking about it. Once you’ve put together your budget, hired a team, and gotten the contract signed, it’s understandable to expect that the road forward will be long, but smooth. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case.
Jul 2019 - 4 minutes read
Most development projects will run into roadblocks at some point. It happens all the time. The overall success of your project will ultimately be determined by how you handle these setbacks.
This isn’t to say that you should spend the entire timeline of the project worrying. Actually, worrying is one of the last things you should do! Instead of spending your mental energy worrying, focus on planning for these roadblocks. That’s the only way that you can prevent your project from completely derailing. By planning ahead for potential roadblocks, you minimize their impact, keeping the project on track.
What Are Some Common Roadblocks in Development?
In the world of web development, every working dev has their own stories about a project that went off the rails. Whether you work on your own or are part of larger team, these stories are common. Unfortunately, many of these horror stories start in a similar place- a roadblock that just couldn’t be overcome. Here are some of the most common roadblocks in development.
A Key Team Member Quits
A key team member quitting or being asked to work on another project is rare, but it does happen. If that person was performing a key task, or was responsible for keeping communication flowing, you should expect delays while you train a suitable replacement.
Good communication keeps every development project humming along, right on schedule. Poor communication doesn’t only cause delays- it can cause a complete breakdown in a project. If team members can’t communicate, or if there’s a communication issue between developer and client, it can put the entire project at risk.
Not Setting Measurable Objectives
The only thing that’s worse than struggling with a project on your own is being part of a struggling team. It’s incredible frustrating because no matter how much work you do, it feels like nothing ever gets done. Failing to set measurable objects can cause this feeling. When you don’t know what you’re aiming towards, it’s really easy to go in circles forever, doing nothing at all.
Budget Doesn’t Line Up with Expectations
Even if you thought you had a good understanding about the budget for a project, money can still be an issue. Maybe the client is asking too much over and above the agreed-upon amount, or the developer is insisting on costly upgrades that the client just doesn’t think are necessary. Both of these mindsets are hard to escape, and can easily derail a project if an agreement isn’t reached.
You’ve Hit a Roadblock- Now What?
The most important thing to realize about a roadblock is that it doesn’t mean your project is doomed. Roadblocks and setbacks can happen to any developer, but the key to dealing with them is to prepare for them in advance. Having contingencies for these types of situations built into your timeline and contract gives you a bit more control. It’s impossible to foresee everything, but if you prepare for the worst, you’ll never be caught off guard.
If a roadblock happens in your project, here’s what you should do.
When faced with a setback, lots of people react by digging in their heels. They refuse to see how the project can move forward, and instead of being optimistic, they give into negative thoughts. This bad attitude is why roadblocks so often tank otherwise-successful development projects. Instead of worrying about how you can stick the original plan in light of this roadblock, give yourself permission to be flexible. Think of ways that you can succeed despite the obstacles in the way. Flexibility is going to be much more useful to you than stubbornness or frustration.
Sit Down and Make a Plan- As a Team
If you’re faced with a difficult situation, it’s tempting to want to be the hero, and solve it all on your own. Unless you’re a freelancer working on a project solo, you need to get rid of this attitude. Check your ego at the door, and ask your team for help. Inform everyone of the setback the project is facing and ask for their suggestions. You may find that brainstorming as a team is much more useful than everyone struggling on their own.
Plan Your Steps Towards a Minimum Viable Product
Once you’ve figured out a way to overcome the roadblock, the next step should be plotting your new course towards a minimum viable product. This is especially important if the roadblock has cost you lots of time or money- which it likely has. Getting out a minimum viable product and getting input from the client, and potentially their customers as well, is much more important than working towards perfection.
The Only Way to Deal with Roadblocks is to Expect Them
You’ll face many setbacks and detours on the road to a successful development project. The best way to deal with them is to plan ahead. Once you’ve wrapped your mind around the idea that no development project offers a smooth road from Point A to Point B, things get a lot easier. Events in real life never go as smoothly as they do in your mind.
There’s one more secret to dealing with roadblocks- it’s optimism. You need to believe that there’s a solution to every problem. The same creativity and problem-solving that’s used in everyday web development applies to these situations as well. With a well-prepared team that communicates well and has prepared in advance, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.