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Common Risks in Web Development Project Management

written by: Dave Ingram • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 3/12/2011

Learning the common risks of web development project management can give you an edge in project planning and coordination.

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    Web development project management can be a dynamic and exciting career path. Web developers create applications to serve consumers' needs in new ways, and they can witness their projects grow to reach rapid, global popularity after months or years of hard work. As a relatively new phenomenon, the internet poses distinct risks for web development projects. If you're looking at a list of common risks, web development project management includes the risk of going overtime, running over budget, choosing the wrong technology and falling victim to intellectual property theft.

    Web developers leverage new technologies. 

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    Going Over Budget

    Software development projects are carefully planned and budgeted to cover the cost of the labor and technology required to build high-quality applications. Web development projects are virtually guaranteed to involve unforeseen challenges that stretch programmers to their limits to come up with creative solutions. The extra effort required to overcome unexpected hurdles can push labor costs through the roof, including possible consulting fees for solving complex problems.

    The software development business model requires a significant up-front investment that doesn't begin to recoup until the project is completely finished. Running out of money before a project is complete can prevent the product from ever hitting the shelves and earning a profit.

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    Going Over Time

    Since labor is the largest expense in web development project management, the risk of going over budget is directly related to the risk of failing to meet deadlines. However, the software industry poses additional threats for projects that run over their expected times. Since the software industry evolves at a faster pace than most, the slightest delay in development can cause a company to lose ground to a competitor.

    Competing software companies often develop similar products at the same time, racing to be the first to offer a new product to the market. Missing pre-announced release dates can also tarnish a software company's reputation and deal a serious blow to any built-up marketing hype.

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    Choice of Technology

    The hardware-powering web applications evolves just as quickly as software. Web development projects based on cutting edge technology place a bet on that technology's taking hold in the marketplace. Unfortunately, new technologies do not always gain widespread popularity; some fade away more quickly than others. Basing a software development project on a new technology that fails to gain traction can be a death sentence for the product.

    On the flip side, basing a web application on older technologies is also risky. If a newer technology quickly makes the old ones obsolete, there may be no use for the new application.

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    Intellectual Property Theft

    Software development involves working with a wide range of stakeholders, including programmers, marketing specialists, product testers, legal consultants and administrative assistants. In order for a project to run smoothly, all vital stakeholders must be fully aware of the project's features, differentiating factors and timelines. Core programmers in the project are intimately familiar with the mechanics of the product, as well. Involving so many people in producing a new product carries the risk that someone will take your idea and either sell it to a competitor or release it himself.

    The best way for web development project managers to defend against intellectual property theft from the inside is to require all stakeholders to sign non-disclosure contracts covering every aspect of the project.

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    Resources

    Reference

    Tech Soup: Seven Web Development Pitfalls, retrieved at http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/webbuilding/page6596.cfm

    Photo Credit: todorov40, sxc.hu

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