Always overestimate the difficulties of simple projects

I’ve worked in plenty of projects, at school, at work, and at play. One thing I’ve learned is to always overestimate the difficulty of a project. Especially if it appears easy.

A friend and I are currently working on building a website for a local B2B (business-to-business) company during our spare time. When we first took on this job we were both quite confident that it could be done quickly and without too much effort.

The requirements were simple, if a little vague (*project-management red flag alert*): build a website that’d showcase this company in a good, professional light, and that would encourage other business owners and decision makers to work with them.

We could this in a day. Or so we thought. The problem was that we thought this project was so easy

  • that we didn’t have to do proper planning;
  • that we didn’t have to prepare before we dove right into actual development; and
  • that we could do it in a day.

The fact that we thought it was so easy should caused us some concern.

Imagine our despair when just the other night we sat staring at the screen, debating over what image (if any) to use for the homepage. We picked some. But they were: too dark; too light; too cartoony; too inappropriate; too corny; too [name your own adjective].

We did this for hours. With an end-result of:  .

Yup: Nothing. This wasn’t as easy as we thought.

So we thought, okay, let’s work on other things first. We decided to work on some of the copywriting that went on the site. That part was fine, except that we realised that we had far less material on the company that we had thought.

We had requested for it, and they had given it. We just thought it was more substantial. Not a few paragraphs of half-baked mission statements and product descriptions that looked like they were written as filler text. Which they were.

In the end we settled down, got our thoughts together, and started planning with the assumption that this was going to be a difficult project. No more complacency. Just plain and proper project management.

Projects are never as easy as they seem. Especially if they seem easy.

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