We just completed a project with the most aggressive timeline I have ever had the pleasure to plan and manage. It would have been a complete displeasure had everything not gone so well. It might not sound so rough in writing, but we designed and deployed a blog for a brand new client in under 10 days.
Two days after launch, I am sitting at my desk, going back to the site to make sure we didn't miss something, thinking "what happened here?" or "how did we pull it off?" Here's why I think we did it:
A solid project plan
I'm definitely not saying it was me. The plan we came up with was a team effort. I steered the ship to make sure we met milestones and that all parties involved were keeping up with their end of the deal. But going in to the project with a sense of immediacy about what needed to be accomplished and in what order was crucial to our success. In this instance, everything would've fallen apart without it.
An understanding, flexible client
You never know what you're getting in to with a new client. Thankfully, this client understood that a 10 day project meant they needed to think quickly, get us the info we needed, and approve/provide assets quickly. They made my life easier than it could've been, that's for sure.
It's all about opening up all channels: phone, email, IM, meetings, etc. I set up weekly check ins for the term of the project, but for this first milestone we only had enough time for one weekly status report call. That doesn't mean that we were not in constant communication as a team and with our clients. We had to be. We communicated page requirements through a message and ran with them on the fly. We couldn't wait. It wasn't perfect and things change (they always do), but keeping a solid stream of communications with good expectations in place helped us, for sure.
A nimble team
The team consisted of one designer, one designer/developer, one creative director, and one project manager. Design concepts were wrapped up in two days, selection and revision happened in one day, and final design and development of features (including responsive design and some other cool bells and whistles) happened up until the very last-minute possible. Responsibilities were very clear, which made things easy to manage from the beginning.
Extra work hours
We had to make it work. Not only was the team nimble, they were willing to work late, on the weekend (on a planned day off), and come in early to make it happen. It's nice to see real dedication and teamwork to make a project happen.
I am sure there were other things, like the stars aligning with the moon, that contributed to the success of the project, but the real things that made us happy. So, now that we've celebrated with some beers and picklebacks, it's probably time to do a post mortem to really figure out what helped us kill it.