Rescuing a Development Project Gone Wrong

Everyone has a project go wrong from time to time. The ultimate test if how you get it back on track and heading towards those all important goals as soon as possible when its all gone wrong.

Written By Stewart Ritchie
Posted On August 1, 2016

Oh no.

It’s happening. Somethings gone really really wrong with your project. Maybe your developers have built completely the wrong thing. Maybe communication has been so bad that you have no idea what’s where, what’s been done or what needs to be done.

It’s going to happen eventually, everyone who hires developers on a semi regular basis has a project go wrong and every development team eventually has a project get away from under them and go bad.

The important thing is to not panic.

The situation isn’t ideal but no one has died.

Take a breath and formulate a plan.

Here is a great start.

Accept it and that this is going to get a whole lot more expensive

I know you don’t want to hear this but it’s true. All that time and effort is gone. You’ve still got a deadline and a whole tonne of work todo. If your lucky you managed to stop things before they went too bad. Now comes the even harder part. Things are going to get worse. It’s going to be expensive to get this back on track but in time, and money.
The best thing you can do is just accept the situation and get on with it as

Get the code somehow, you may have to pay the developers for it and get them out of the way as soon as possible.

Audit what is and isn’t done.

Spend some time, go through your spec, see what they managed to do and what they haven’t. What can you ship the client and what can’t ever see the light of day again.

Work out what went wrong

What happened?

Was it something on your side or was it on theirs?

Why was the deadline missed? Did something get added in or changed at the last minute before the project started? Was there a change to the spec after the

Bring in a new developer to take a look and what can/can’t be saved

Chances are that you wont be able to save anything.  Not to say that the work your developers did was bad.  But, when you change developers you pick up an new coding style and methodology with it.  There is also, probably no documentation or resources to go with it.  No idea of what functionality is there and fully formed vs what is just a prototype.  Maybe you’ll be lucky an a component will be usable.  Perhaps if you are using WordPress the CSS of JS constructed will Be okay while the theme structure needs work.

Start again, it’s probably faster and cheaper than trying to use the existing code.

It’s true.  You have some of the work done but now its about making that calculation.  How much extra time will your new developers need to read and understand whats been done so far versus how long will it take them to replicate the work that already been done.  Not an easy call and can be very frustrating to hear.

Now is your chance to take the time and start a new relationship with a great development team.  It will be more expensive but what you pay for in reliability, you save in stress and heart ache.  Paying for a professional team to do your project if more than worth the expense.

This isn’t fun.

Your going through one of the toughest things a project can go through. No one envies the situation you find yourself in right now, this is going to be hard.  You can do it though.  You can break through this quagmire and get your project to the end.  Your going to be late, your going to be over budget,  your going to look a bit amatureish to your client – but – you’ll get it there.  The important thing is that we learn lessons and don’t let the mistakes of old happen again.

Stewart Ritchie
Lead developer and founder of Powered By Coffee. Stewart has been building websites for 15 years and focusing on WordPress for 5. He founded Powered By Coffee in 2011 after finishing is masters degree. He lives in Guildford Surrey with his wife Sydney and their two cats.
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