The Kill Shot and Project Management - Digital Tool Factory blog The Kill Shot and Project Management - Digital Tool Factory blog

The Kill Shot and Project Management

Sniper - SpetsnatsWhat is a preventable cause of scope creep?  Anxiety.  Anxiety attacks project managers at the end of projects, making some or all of the following happen:

  • Project managers insist on new “essential” features
  • Assistants demand detailed technical explanations for the most mundane of matters.
  • Urgent, surprise meetings will be held
  • People you’ve never heard of start talking about “revisiting” and “Ten Thousand Foot Views“.
  • The main project manager will put the project on hold “just for a little while” until “this is all sorted out”
  • The main project manager will decide that every manager in the company must sign off on the project.

The cause of the above is a difference in anxiety between you and the client.  The web developer experiences the highest anxiety and least clarity at the beginning (least specific point in terms of development) of the project and the lowest anxiety and most clarity at the end of the project.

The client experiences the reverse.  The client experiences the highest clarity and the lowest anxiety at the beginning of the project when their assumptions about the problem clear, or at least the assumptions are the most recent and true.

Then months pass as developers work on the project and the underlying conditions and assumptions about both the problem and the solution become less relevant and true.   Eventually the client sees the specific solution to his (at this point) vague problem.  When the specific meets the vague anxiety occurs and everyone panics.   Since web projects are easy to delay the client will relieve anxiety with meetings and modifications.

My solution is to define a “Kill Shot”.  A Kill Shot is a specific, obvious to all, expensive to reverse) event in the project that the client will perform.  I’ve used server upgrades, domain name changes, and scheduled press releases as kill shots.  The specific event doesn’t matter – the important part is that the client is actively doing something specific and not just passively reviewing.   Kill shots keep the client focused throughout the project and keeps the anxiety level low.

FYI – I chose the term “Kill Shot” after watching a History Channel documentary on snipers.  For better or for worse, the job of the sniper has a definite, obvious point that cannot be reversed.

Creative Commons License photo credit: ATKR


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog


Written By Steve French


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