Make It Work: Tips for Dealing with Tension between a Project’s Vision & Execution

Posted on: December 17th, 2015 - Written by: Olivia Gregory

When we think about the structure of any company, there are always multiple roles, each playing a crucial part in achieving business goals. We’d like to talk about two of these roles in this article—and also the tension that is often (and naturally) present between them.

One on hand, you’ve got those in a company who cast vision for what needs to be developed next. These people may be in marketing, or they may be in executive leadership positions. They determine what products and/or services a company needs to be offering and possibly even what those products/services need to look like.

Then you’ve got those who actually have to take that vision and make it a reality. The developers, engineers, and technicians of a company must make a physical thing from an idea. They work to make sure that what is asked for is actually delivered to those who cast the vision—and, in the end, to the company’s customers.

If you’ve ever worked in either of these kinds of roles before, you know that some level of tension is not unusual between the two groups. We would say that this tension doesn’t necessarily have to be antagonistic—some is, in fact, helpful, driving a higher level of creativity and output. However, if the tension isn’t addressed in a healthy way, it could also lead to a project’s going south very quickly.

Below are some tips for creating and maintaining a healthy, productive relationship between decision makers and decision implementers.

For decision makers:

  • Remember that whoever is turning your vision into reality must, well, deal in reality. Though ideas are important—crucial, even—making something from an idea is a whole different ballgame. With that in mind, make sure your development team has been given a requirements document that outlines the details of the vision.
  • In addition to a requirements document, make sure to provide justification for what’s in that document. It is a huge help for any development team to have information regarding trends, size, and direction of the target market. This gives the team making your products something really important: context.
  • Another critical piece of context comes in the form of competitor analysis. If your development team knows that if they add XYZ to the product, a certain part of the market will be captured, it gives them a more clearly defined target on the wall. Having competitor analysis also prevents a development team from working on a particular feature not all that important in the market niche.
  • Talk about company-wide benefits of the new product/service. If your development team has a good grasp of what the end goal is for the project, they can better translate a requirements document into specific features. They need to know the why.

For decision implementers:

  • Make sure to communicate how realistic a requirement is, given schedule and budget guidelines. Don’t overpromise, but don’t underestimate what can be done, either. Think outside the box as you identify risks up front and as they develop—and talk about those things in real time with decision makers.
  • Ask about resource requirements and limitations. Hopefully most of this will be detailed in an initial requirements document, but if something is unclear, make sure to ask. If you err, err on the side of asking too many questions rather than not enough.
  • Provide regular updates to decision makers throughout the development process. This shows that you are committed to a successful process and outcome—regardless of what challenges and scope changes may arise. If scope change does happen, evaluate the effect this will have on the budget, schedule, and end product; then clearly communicate your findings.
  • Don’t assume the worst about anyone who is part of the picture. Trust your colleagues. When there is a disagreement, start from that place of trust and try to figure out the why. An attitude of trust goes a very long way toward reaching a mutually agreeable solution.

Not surprisingly, good communication is foundational to each of the tips mentioned above. When communication between decision makers and their development teams is both honest and respectful, project success skyrockets.

We know this firsthand, because our entire business model is built around making sure we (developers and decision implementers) are on the same page as our clients (decision makers). This enables us to function as an internal (outsourced) development team for mission-critical projects. INSite’s Professional Services Team works closely with our customers to bridge the gap between a project’s vision and a robust end product.

Interested in learning more about our process? Let’s connect—call or send us an email today.


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