Few things are as frustrating as seeing a budget-plan fail. There’s so much at stake with a timeline that revolves around time and man-hours and yet it’s one of the first red flags I see when a project stumbles.
It starts off small: a few hours here, a missed deadline there, but let that go unnoticed for long enough and the finish line doesn’t just look far away -- it looks impossible.
Sometimes it is. Halfway through the race is the worst place to realize that too. If you plan and understand yourself and your project this doesn’t have to be the case.
First Budget-killer: Revisions.
It’s hard to say that revisions are bad -- they’re not. Sometimes they come from necessity and other times luxury. You overshot with your budget and have to scale back or you played it safe and have some wiggle room.
Maybe they happen at the right time...or the wrong time. What’s killing your budget is that these revisions come late, often, and don’t serve the core of the project. I’ve seen clients that get right up to the launch date before having a really swell talk with a prospective customer who wants the app AND ALSO a few more features.
These revisions to make an easy sell effectively torpedo your momentum. It requires you to look at what you’ve got, what you need, and re-jigger the timeline to fit those needs -- all at the end of your budget.
It’s cumbersome, it puts unnecessary pressure on a project/product team, and you should avoid it.
Second budget-killer: Meetings
No, not all meetings, don’t throw away your calendar just yet. It’s good to touch base every once in a while especially at checkpoints. My team insists on a weekly kanban to discuss weekly checkpoints while occasionally talking longer milestones.
One thing that you might be underestimating, though, is the time spent ‘checking in’. It can be scary to leave your project in the hands of a team for a week or longer without making sure things are going to plan. But the more time you spend catching up is A) taking from your developer’s work time and B) draining your budget.
These impromptu sessions can feel like snackable pieces of time -- the way a single M&M isn’t worth calorie counting. But trust me your developers are keeping track of it. And if you didn’t get anything worthwhile established, it’s money that evaporates from the budget. Make sure your meetings are effective.
Third budget-killer: The Last-minute Pivot
This one stands out because you can’t account for it in the beginning. It’s a trial that you have to anticipate and avoid at all costs when it finally does show up. But one thing I’ve noticed in eager clients is the reflex to avoid launch until things are perfect.
Perfection is the enemy of good but it’s a tantalizing shift, especially if things are going well. It can be tempting to push the launch date a month forward if it means plugging in another doodad or whizzbang.
If it goes on long enough, you’ve graduated from last-minute revisions to full on Perpetual Student Syndrome. Failure to launch isn’t just a byproduct of changes...it’s the goal. You don’t want your baby to go out into the world and get pummeled because it’s not ready. Always learning, never graduating. This is where knowing how useful the Basic Iterative Process can be in helping you avoid this.
Don't fall into this bad mindset since, well, your project never gets out there. And while post-launch is a scary place it’s where you and your product find your footing in the world. There isn’t much advice here but to recognize when the urge comes. When you do, put your foot on the gas pedal and launch that project onto the world stage.
It’s difficult to have a budget-plan succeed at 100% of its goals. Things outside our control can be speed bumps or even roadblocks. But you always have control over your own administration of the project. Make sure your revisions are actionable at the right time, that your meetings are effective, and that you launch when the budget planned...not when you think it’s perfect.
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