Posted by: cnielsen on Aug 25, 2011
Joomla! CMS project Mistake Number Three: Having bigger ideas than your budget, resources and time will allow or than what is actually needed to provide the intended solution.
Often times we get a client with a relatively small budget and limited web experience that wants us to do all of the work and expects a fully functional Amazon type of ecommerce web portal system. Needless to say this is rather unrealistic. Robust features and capabilities are abundant with few limitations when building a portal system using Joomla! CMS. This platform is built on open source code and you can leverage over 7500+ 3rd party extensions. However, where you do have limitations is in the skill level and resources available from the principle instigator as it relates to the scope or vision they want to implement.
Avoid Scope Creep
As a creative guy myself I have been the king of scope creep in the past on my own projects when I start letting my imagination wonder on all of the possibilities. I am though easily wound in when I start thinking about how much time it is going to take me or my team to make these ideas a reality.
One of the challenges I have as a consultant is being that translator between the visionary ideas of the project and the practical programming aspects required for the content experts to achieve the most realistic outcome and managed expectations.
Build a Realistic Plan
If you are starting a project it is great to map out all of the cool ideas and WOW! factor as long as you can hone this down to a realistic project plan that will be within your means and present your ideas in ways that never overwhelm your end users. Not to mention that you want to see the best value for your investment in a Joomla! CMS system tailored to your business goals. One of the tools I like to use to get everything in perspective early in the planning process and throughout the project is a mind mapping tool called mindjet (www.mindjet.com).
If you know the end goal and can plan the phases of your project with the proper milestones this will help you know when it is appropriate to move to the next phase. It will also allow you to hold your purse strings in a way that you get the best return on your investment. With that said not spending enough on maintenance and support over time can be just as risky.
Make Sure you have the Right Technology Strategy for the Targeted Goals
A while back we did an extensive strategy session for a client and together we came up with a fantastic quadrant map of their customer base, the top 20 questions they would want to ask their clients and this discussion evolved into what could have been a very cool online tool for their Joomla! CMS eCommerce web site. Hey, we would have loved to build this and our programmers would have eaten well and sent their kids through college from the level of work it required.
As a consultant though looking out for the best interest of the client I had to tell them to first evaluate how many times this form process and application would get used and would this really be a good investment at that point in the project? I went on to suggest that they could real in a lot of customers with a manual process and be more affective with a personalized interaction first and then if they get overwhelmed with more work than they could handle perhaps then this would be a good investment to consider at that time. As it turned out the personal approach I recommended was a far better end game for their marketing approach and business success. Even though the owner was passionate about building this tool, everyone won from taking a step back and getting perspective.
Be Careful not to put your Business at Risk
If we would have eagerly taken on the development project as they wanted us to they would have spent a ton of money that would have not been a good return on their investment and thus put their business at risk. So even if a client has the money to spend “right now” we still have to ask;
- Can you afford this and how much should you invest over what period of time to protect your investment?
- What features are going to give you the greatest return and where should you place your priorities?
Even though not every return is tangible you have to be careful to keep the right balance between value, perspective and risk. The last thing any business or project needs is to run out of money before you reach a satisfactory or useful level of completion. A half-baked solution is mostly useless.
Give your customers what they need and you will be successful!
We ended up with more business from this customer by giving the right advice, the customer ended up growing more business through a personal approach and the end user received a higher level of customer support and personalized service. They turned out to be one of our greatest success stories.
In conclusion make sure you ask the right questions as you bring your project into scope, be realistic in what you can afford both in time and treasure and remain focused on what is essential to meeting the needs of your end user. Of course somewhere in this mix you want to keep enough of your vision and creativity to make the site your own and be able to stand out in a crowded web space.