Apr 25, 2024 Written by David Barlev

Navigating Rescue Projects: How Goji Handles Digital Product Recovery

At Goji, we recognize that digital product development can sometimes hit roadblocks, leading to what we call “rescue projects.” These are situations where clients approach us after encountering challenges with their ongoing projects. Whether it’s a misaligned team, scope creep, or simply not getting the desired results, we understand the frustrations and complexities involved. So today, we’ll delve into how we tackle rescue projects at Goji and guide clients towards successful outcomes.

Defining “Rescue” Projects

Roughly 30% of our work at Goji involves rescue projects. Often, clients have already invested significant time and resources into their projects, only to find themselves far from their intended goals. This could manifest as a product prototype that doesn’t match their vision or a digital experience plagued with bugs. Non-technical founders and businesses, in particular, may find themselves in this predicament due to hiring the wrong team or experiencing scope creep.

“Rescue” Projects: Why they happen and what they cost

At Goji, “rescue” projects represent a unique challenge, often arising from a combination of factors that derail progress and hinder success. These projects typically emerge when clients find themselves at a crossroads, realizing that their current trajectory is not leading them towards their desired outcomes. Let’s delve deeper into why these projects happen and the costs associated with their consequences.

Why Do Rescue Projects Happen?

  1. Misaligned Expectations: One common reason for rescue projects is the misalignment of expectations between clients and development teams. Non-technical founders and businesses may struggle to articulate their vision effectively, leading to misunderstandings and divergent interpretations of project requirements.
  2. Bad-fit Team Selection: Choosing the wrong development team can spell disaster for a project. Whether due to lack of expertise, poor communication, or cultural fit issues, working with the wrong team can result in subpar outcomes and project delays.
  3. Scope Creep: Another culprit behind rescue projects is scope creep, where project requirements expand beyond the initial scope without proper planning or control. As features pile up and timelines extend, the project becomes increasingly difficult to manage, leading to inefficiencies and frustration.

The Costs and Consequences

  1. Financial Loss: Perhaps the most immediate consequence of a rescue project is the financial loss incurred by the client. Investments in development efforts, resources, and time may yield little to no return if the project fails to meet its objectives.
  2. Time Wasted: Time is a precious commodity in the world of business, and rescue projects can result in significant time wastage. Delayed launches, prolonged development cycles, and the need to backtrack and reassess can all contribute to lost opportunities and competitive disadvantage.
  3. Reputation Damage: Beyond the tangible costs, rescue projects can also inflict damage on a company’s reputation. Failed projects reflect poorly on the client’s ability to execute and may erode trust among stakeholders, investors, and customers.

Goji’s Approach to Rescue Projects

When clients approach us with rescue projects, we follow a structured approach designed to bring clarity and direction:

1. Empathy

We understand that facing a stalled or failed project can be disheartening, especially after investing considerable effort and capital. We empathize with our clients’ frustrations, acknowledging the challenges they’ve encountered and the difficult decision to seek a new direction.

2. Audit and Assessment: Identifying Root Causes

When approaching a rescue project, a thorough product audit, UX audit, and assessment of the existing development efforts are essential to uncovering the root causes of the project’s challenges. At Goji, we follow a structured process to evaluate the current state of the project, identify its previous roadblocks, and mitigate areas for improvement:

  1. Comprehensive Review: We conduct a super comprehensive review of all project documentation, including specifications, design assets, and code repositories. This helps us have a holistic understanding of the project’s objectives, scope, and current status.
  2. Stakeholder Interviews: We talk with key stakeholders, including the client’s team members and any external collaborators, to gain a insights and a comprehensive understanding into their experiences and perspectives on the project. These interviews provide valuable context and help us identify any communication or alignment issues that may have contributed to the project’s challenges.
  3. Technical Assessment: A technical assessment is conducted to evaluate the quality and efficiency of the existing codebase. This involves reviewing the code for best practices, identifying any architectural flaws or performance bottlenecks, and assessing the feasibility of incorporating existing code into the revised project plan.
  4. Gap Analysis: We perform a gap analysis to identify discrepancies between the client’s initial vision for the project and its current state. This involves comparing the project documentation and deliverables against the client’s stated objectives and identifying any areas where expectations have not been met.
  5. Risk Identification: Finally, we identify and prioritize any potential risks or challenges that may come up moving forward and interfere success of the project moving forward. This includes technical risks, such as compatibility issues or security vulnerabilities, as well as organizational risks, such as resource constraints or stakeholder resistance.

3. Execution: Mitigating Risks and Moving Forward

Once the audit and assessment phase is complete, we develop a comprehensive plan for moving the project forward. This plan is tailored to address the specific challenges identified during the assessment phase and mitigate any risks that may impede progress. Here are the key steps we take during the execution phase:

  1. Clear Objectives and Scope: We work closely with the client in order to define clear objectives and scope for the revised project. This includes prioritizing features and functionalities based on business value and feasibility, ensuring that the project remains focused and achievable within the available resources.
  2. Iterative Development: We adopt an iterative development approach, breaking the project down into smaller, manageable milestones that can be completed incrementally. This allows for ongoing feedback and validation from stakeholders, so that we can make sure that the project remains aligned with the client’s evolving needs and priorities.
  3. Continuous Communication: We maintain open and transparent communication channels throughout the development process, keeping stakeholders informed of progress, challenges, and decisions. Staying consistenly connected helps build trust and alignment among team members and ensures that any concerns are addressed timely.
  4. Quality Assurance: We prioritize quality assurance throughout the development lifecycle, conducting regular testing and validation to identify and address any defects or issues early on. Prioritzing QA includes both manual and automated testing, as well as peer reviews and code audits to make absolute sure that the final deliverables not only meet the highest quality standards possible, but exceed them.
  5. Adaptive Planning: Finally, we remain agile and adaptive in our approach, adjusting the project plan as needed based on feedback, changing requirements, or unforeseen challenges. Building this flexibility into the process allows us to respond quickly to changing circumstances, so that we can make sure that the project remains on track.

Overcoming ‘Developer PTSD’

We recognize that past negative experiences with development teams can lead to apprehension and uncertainty, what we’ve lovingly coined as “developer PTSD.” Clients may feel hesitant to embark on a new partnership, fearing a repeat of past challenges. 

At Goji, we aim to alleviate these concerns by emphasizing our commitment to professionalism, process, and execution. By instilling confidence and providing transparent communication, we help clients navigate through the uncertainties of rescue projects.

Summing Up ‘Rescue Projects’

Rescue projects present unique challenges, but with the right approach and expertise, they can lead to ultra-successful business outcomes. At Goji, we leverage our experience and processes to guide clients through the recovery process, ensuring that their digital products align with their vision and objectives. 

Finding yourself in need of rescuing a stalled project? Reach out to us. Let’s build it right.

This post was written by David Barlev, CEO @ Goji Labs.