I'm 6 weeks into a 15 week website/ web development project with a non-profit organisation. With this client I deal with

  • the internal IT manager
  • a key administrative assistant
  • an in-house designer
  • the CEO

The internal IT manager is the most technically skilled, reasonable and appears to have the best long term knowledge. Interactivity with the CEO has been minimal, largely on a "trust establishment" level.

The IT manager has just told me she will be away on annual leave in weeks 9,10,11. This is something I hadn't taken into account, in fact I specifically asked if anyone will be away travelling for 1+ weeks when the project scope was written.

The project is largely divided into:

  • Website upgrade (40%, ca 75% complete): we are upgrading a Joomla website including a wide range of "hacks" that we re-apply and a module that we replace with a custom written one.

  • Website re-skinning (40%, ca 5% complete): The clients in-house designer has updated the look and feel and we are producing HTML and integrating it.

  • New module development (20%, 0% complete): We build and integrate a new module

What would you think are key areas of risk management that we should establish an agreement on with the client before this annual leave? My concerns are:

  • administrative assistant is not as focused as IT manager and may take more of our time testing and need test guidance
  • administrative assistant may not know all "hacked" functionality and what original intention was (we don't know 100% either, but have reeingineered hacks with SVN diff)
  • Decisions that may cut into budget may need to be deferred as budget is always a concern with non profits

I am less worried about the reskin tasks, as the in-house designer had the lead on how it looks in any case and it is clearer to decide what is correct and what is not because it is visual

1 Answer 1


From what you write I would make a few assumptions (some of which you point directly, so they aren't that much of assumptions):

  • In terms of IT manager absence risk areas are website upgrade and new module development.
  • There shouldn't be many problems with re-skinning the site even if you don't have IT manager at hand.
  • At current pace you should be able to complete website upgrade before week 9 which will enable further work on re-skinning and new module.
  • It is also possible to do most of the work on new module after the IT manager is back.

Considering all that I would try to organize work in a way that most of tasks done during weeks 9, 10 and 11 are connected with site re-skinning. To do that I would focus on finishing website upgrade as soon as possible, which is already happening from what I see.

Another idea which may be useful is to define the least vague parts of the new module -- basically things which are obvious for everyone -- before the manager leaves. It will allow to push the work in this area as well, while limiting risk of building the wrong thing.

On the top of that I would:

  • ask for pointing who will be a substitution for the manager during their absence (even though it won't solve many knowledge-related issues it should help a bit with decision-making problems)
  • encourage client's team to work on exchanging knowledge on the project so there are knowledgeable people during the manager's absence
  • try to define in more detail plans for weeks 9, 10 and 11 up-front so you rule out possibly many of your doubts
  • prepare more tasks than can possibly be done during these three weeks which would build a work buffer you can use anytime you need to defer work on a specific tasks because of the manager's absence
  • ask for some kind of emergency contact, so you can catch the manager whenever you need important and quick decision from their side (note: I would try hard not to overuse this)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.