6 tips for great communication on a development project
Communication is as integral to a project’s success as any technology, tools or implementation strategies. After all, in order to get where we need to go, everyone needs to be following the same map. When communication falters, so does the project’s vision. If regular check-ins aren’t completed or there isn’t an open dialogue from each side, mistakes and assumptions arise – and we all know what they say about assumptions.
However, balance is key. Here are six tips to help you get started.
1. Start with the end in mind
Regardless of a project’s nature, understanding its end game is the first step. Developers should devise a long-term plan and establish early on how much information the client would like along the way; for instance, how often does the client want to be updated? How will you communicate with other team members? Setting a clear path not only makes the journey itself easier and more efficient, but also sets expectations and aids with transparency.
Moreover, this is not so much about the final product of the project, but rather what the client wants to achieve with it. For instance, if someone enquires about updating their ecommerce site, snazzy designs aside, what they are really after is an uptick in sales and functionality. So, start by thinking big.
2. Set clear goals
After the main plan of action is established, smaller goals should also be shared because a project is made up of little milestones. Questions like how far along the client wants the project to be after, say, two weeks, or how much input they want to have should be made clear at the beginning. By creating smaller, achievable goals, everyone involved will know their place and their next step, making the whole project more effective. And while you’re at it…
3. Put it in writing
Memory is a fickle thing, so don’t leave vital project insight inside your head. Verbal conversations are a great way of building rapport, but they are very rarely well remembered. Additionally, having the goals and project expectations clear gives everyone a chance to review them, check back in and realign themselves if necessary. So keep notes and send follow-up emails after meetings to keep everyone in the loop.
4. Be honest
Especially when it comes to bad news. If there has been a setback or mistake, tell them. Don’t go beating around the bush. While they may not be happy to know that there’s an issue, they will respect your honesty.
5. Speak their language
Now, no matter how experienced or tech savvy the person sat across from you is, it’s best to speak plainly. Not everyone will be as familiar with your tech niche as you are, so leave out the jargon and ensure your message gets across.
6. Stay in touch
The regularity of updates is largely contingent on the project. Some clients may just want the final product, while some partners may want daily round-ups. Ironically, the key to establishing how much you should communicate is by communicating with them and asking. Go figure.
If you’re a perfectionist, letting people in on the process can be a challenge. You may be tempted to keep it all under wraps ready for a big reveal, but silence will only create more worries. Not to mention, communication builds transparency; disappearing off into the office for six weeks, however – not so much. Plus, people like to see the project in action, especially when it’s a field they’re not familiar with, so don’t be afraid to get them involved.