Managing a website project is a big task. Let's face it – budget overruns happen. Unexpected additions or changes almost always arise and can cause increases in timeline, scope, and costs. If you don't take the time to plan, these overruns can add up fast. Regardless if you run a big corporation, small business, or impactful nonprofit, additional costs can negatively affect your mission. To set your project – and finances – up for success, here are some best practices to avoid cost overruns when working on your next website rebuild.
- Align on strategy
- Identify the riskiest parts of the project
- Create a budget buffer
Align on strategy
It's important that your website rebuild team — internally and your agency — is on the same page about strategy. Together, identify audience motivations and determine internal and external project goals. Commit to evaluating every decision or proposed change against these goals. Of course, not every proposed change has to be a “no” if it's not in line with your original strategy. The idea is to check the implications of changes against your strategy to avoid scope creep and a website project that drags on.
Identify the riskiest parts of the website project
Some parts of your website rebuild are more straightforward than others. Sit down with your website partner (including your designer and developer) and ask which parts hold the most uncertainty in execution. Which project pieces are team members least familiar with? Which elements have the most unknowns? It may be a vulnerable conversation, because admitting something is hard is … well, hard! An open dialogue about how to reduce risks prepares the team for upcoming challenges as they arise.
Create a budget buffer
Plan for the project to be more expensive than you think. Padding the budget may feel like cheating, but we consider it fully prepared for the unexpected. Update the budget and check in on the team's hours logs so that you know actuals versus estimates. Staying on top of the budget can help you see where you may be in danger of overrun, so you can adjust as needed. A budget buffer gives you the flexibility to make changes with less stress.
Finally, remember that websites are not static. You can always make changes later or plan the website rebuild in phases. Always consider what the MVP (minimum viable product) is for your site – this is your less-than-perfect-but-still-acceptable threshold. It's better to take it one step at a time and stay on budget than it is to battle cost overruns by taking on too much at once.
Whether you're ready to go all-in on a full website rebuild work in phases, we're here to help you make the process easy.