WordPress Project Management and Agile Methodology for Freelance Developers

by Mansoor Ahmed Khan  June 23, 2017

Hello again. I am Matt, the freelance WordPress developer who converted his passion into a full-service WordPress development agency.

Now at this point, I had a pretty steady flow of projects. I was happy with the frequency of WordPress projects, but soon I ran into a problem: the projects were getting out of hand and I was facing serious issues in maintaining the deadlines and deliverables.

WordPress Project Management Techniques

Here is a brief overview of my journey so far:

Even when I selected projects carefully, the sheer volume was high enough to adversely affect my production process. Because of this, my reputation as the freelancer who delivered quality projects ON TIME started to suffer.

It was time to sort the mess out!

I started searching for project management strategies and models to give some order to the delayed deadlines and missing deliverables.

During my research, I came across Agile, a popular project management methodology for software development. However, it was all new to me and the main challenge was the adoption of the Agile project management to my particular freelance project requirements. It was a real challenge, but I am happy to report that it all went very well and now Agile powers all my project management processes.  

How Agile Project Management Works

How Agile Project Management Works

Agile project management is all about planning the whole of a product in detail before developing it.

The idea is to break complex tasks in manageable tasks that are planned out in detail. A time estimate is assigned to each task. This list of tasks is documented to record the initial estimates and a deadline. This is usually managed through a ticket system, where individual tickets record all the work was done and time used for a particular task.

Once the list of tasks has been accomplished, the results are analyzed. The time estimates are revised and the overall efficiency of the process is improved through tweaks and minor adjustments.

Once done, the process starts once again.

WordPress Agile Methodology for Freelance Projects

WordPress Agile Methodology for Freelance Projects

Now using the above process for freelance projects could be a challenge. Freelance projects have unique requirements that are not encountered anywhere else in the software development world.

I started with creating a list of my projects. This list detailed the deadlines and deliverables of each project.

I created milestones for individual projects to make sure that all the tasks are grouped and tracked under a single head.

Next, I worked on the tasks of individual projects. This list was divided as per the deliverables of the project. Each deliverable has a specific deadline that is also the deadline of the ticket tracking the task.

Once all the milestones and tickets are created, the “Sprint” is on and the work begins immediately. Since there is no need to plan, reconsider or revise the tickets, all the time is dedicated to the execution of the projects.

As the tickets are closed, I find that the deliverables of the projects are automatically taken care of. The process ensures that my deadlines are managed automatically because of the sequential way of the process.

The Iterative Process for Freelance Projects

The Iterative Process for Freelance Projects

Remember that Agile is not a standalone or isolated process. In addition, it is not a one-off process.

Agile is a continuous process that tracks, monitors, analyzes and improves the production cycle of software development. The emphasis lies on improving the estimates and adding quality to the development process.

In the context of my freelance projects, the development comes in the form of improved estimates for deliverables of the projects.

Without Agile, a project is treated as a single entity. This leads to delays since there is no clear way of managing the deadlines of individual deliverables that make up the project. Agile divides each deliverable into a discreet ticket with a realistic time estimate. This ensures proper time utilization and deadline management.

Once the Sprint finishes, the time utilization and deadline achievement could be analyzed in detail. The outcome of this analysis is used to tighten up the time estimates, create more effective deadlines and ensure that clients have a good idea of project deliverables schedule.

Trello – The Tool for Implementing Agile

Trello The Tool for Implementing Agile

I use Trello to implement the theory of Agile project management for my freelance projects. The most important reason for this choice is the simple fact that Trello is free and I could use all the project management features without paying a dime. This is a great blessing for freelance developers who are often looking for ways of reducing the cost of production.

I create boards for every milestone. This means that there are multiple boards on my Trello screen, each representing a project. Next, within each board, there are a number of cards. Each card tracks one single task of the project. These cards are the “ticket” that keep track of the work completed for the task. The good thing about the cards is that cards could move up and down the board and even between boards. Thus, I could experiment freely with board and card layouts to figure out what works best for my projects.

As the Sprint progresses, I check off cards and color code them for instant project status. I prefer the traffic-light system that uses RED for pending tasks, YELLOW for tasks in progress and GREEN for completed tasks.

Agile really helped my freelance career and ensured that despite the volume of projects, everything remains on track. The initial implementation took time and experimentation, but once I had perfected the process, it really added great value to my freelance project and increased my revenue substantially.

The next part of this Freelance Developer to Agency series is Best WordPress Workflow Management Tools For Freelance Developers.

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About Mansoor Ahmed Khan

Mansoor Ahmed Khan is a WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways.

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