One of my least favorite things as a developer are the words “I sent that or told you that already.” This is a good indication that a project management system in not in place. I am a firm believer that with a little effort up front, this statement can be essentially eliminated. The most important thing when it comes to software and web development is the comprehensive list of instructions. It has always been my opinion that the person who is sending the project instructions is greatly responsible to manage the flow of work. Under this model, the developer is able to focus on the development of the project, rather than the project management.
Keep the information in one place:
The most efficient way to manage a project is with a project management tool. There are many to pick from depending on the comfort level ad budget of the user. If a project management tool is not being used as a solution for file management, an alternative will need to be worked out. I have used both Google Drive and Dropbox successfully to manage project files. File share software and a single running list while not ideal, can be an alternative for a project management tool.
Email is not a project management Tool:
I have found that one of the hardest ways to manage a project is through an email. Even using an email thread can make finding a file or change request more time consuming. Having to search a thread to figure out what needs to happen, in almost every case will increase project hours. Email are good for initial quotes. One a product has been approved to start, the agreed upon project management system would be used.
Understanding the communication method / project management methods prior to starting:
Setting the expectation on the project management system and protocol is key for a long lasting relationship. It is best to accommodate your client and use the system they are accustomed too. This will make it more of a seamless experience for both of you. Even defining the project management system is not enough. It is best to understand how it will be used.
Outside communication leads to documentation:
Any communication outside the project management system should end up as a clearly defined todo / task or static project scope. This includes email, phone calls and Skype / gChat. The developer has the responsibility of stressing the importance of this. I let my clients know if it is not in the project scope or set in a clearly defined task / todo, it will most likely get missed. I find it to be much more efficient to have a clear list of “action items” to go over prior to a call.