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Why Institutional Web Development Projects Fail and How to Save Them

Fun fact. 40% of all web development projects meet budget, quality, and delivery expectations. Flip that fact on its head and it tells another story. Almost two-thirds of institutional and programming initiatives are unsuccessful. Some of them never make it to completion at all. Fun, right?
At Atlantic BT, we are glad to report that our success rate is much, much higher than these reported averages. In fact, we often jump into projects that have already begun. We take over the reins of institutional web development projects that have derailed.
We’re concerned about the issues that plague our industry. What are the root causes of failing web development projects? The issues outlined below don’t come out of thin air. They have support in surveys and studies, as well as our own experiences over the years.
Here are a few things to look out for as you start planning and executing your next web development project.

A Lack of Definable Outcomes

Some web development projects face doom right from the start. That’s because major stakeholders can’t lay out a clear path to success. They either don’t have a firm idea of what their goals are, or they can’t seem to agree on a shared outcome.
Imagine if your creative team went to work on a project with no specific guidelines or clear end goal. Would it be a surprise then, when they fail to deliver the right or expected result? A lack of strong planning and communication always spells disaster. Executives or departments butting heads over the direction of their website, doesn’t help. Of course there is bound to be some disappointment with the final result.
It can be difficult to balance a variety of personalities and individual agendas. Maintaining a constant flow of productive communication is a valuable asset. Every stakeholder has something they bring to the table. Their insights contribute to the website’s success. But everyone has to be on the same page and stay focused on the goal they all share.

Project Creep

If we want to solve the problems that lead to web development failure, it’s important to find the cause. As it turns out, 41% of those failures occur because of project creep. No, this isn’t a weird man staring into your office windows while you code. Project creep happens when there is a change in strategy. Clients or web developers start with a specific vision as the goal. Then, half way through, they change their mind or want to expand their focus.
Imagine a baker making a delectable cake. After mixing up the batter and starting on the frosting, they veer off in a different direction. The baker decides to prepare a collection of bread loaves. Not only that, but they’re using the cake ingredients they started with. They might be able to come up with something edible, but it is not going to be their best work. Our taste buds may think “Bread made out of cake! Yes, please!”. But the science of baking is going to have its say in the end. And science will win.
A project that evolves too much after the initial planning stage will suffer. Completed work can become irrelevant and, as a result, a waste of time. Budgets, timelines, and expectations are going to jump right out the window. That’s why the planning and discovery phases are so crucial.

Unreliable Bids and Estimates

It’s not exactly a secret that you generally get what you pay for. But, that doesn’t stop people from trying to find the best deal possible. This often means getting more while paying less. Executives and planners will usually aim for this when preparing for a large web project. They’ll try to fool themselves into thinking that they can get a deal that’s too good to be true.

Unfortunately, there are web developers out there who will over-promise and under-deliver. By the time a client figures this out, it’s too late. Now, they only have a series of choices left that range from ‘bad’ to ‘worse’. Do they keep sinking money into a plan that isn’t working or start over again with a different vendor? Either way, it’s going to lead to wasted money and effort.

Want to Turn Your Web Development Project Into a Success?

Need to relaunch your website or turn a failing web development project around? If so, the Atlantic BT creative team can help. Our experts design and program websites that work. We know the questions to ask before work ever begins.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation!


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