As your organization looks to resolve nagging problems with its website, app, or other tool, engaging with outside developers can feel daunting. Maybe your last agency collaboration didn’t yield the right results, or you’re worried about operating within a tight budget.
No matter your concerns, any development project appears challenging without knowing what to expect. However, by following a few best practices, you can see outcomes that will eliminate longtime issues for your organization. And, more importantly, you can take the first step toward building a creative, collaborative partnership that delivers vital, difference-making results over the long haul.
4 Steps to a Productive Agency Partnership
At Lincoln Loop, we specialize in delivering web applications and content platforms that are scalable and sustainable for our clients. And we earned that reputation by being great at what we do. However, for all the successful projects we’ve delivered, we can’t build new platforms alone. It’s simply not possible.
Our engagements are partnerships, and getting the results you need from the collaboration requires putting the right foundation in place. Following these 3 steps ensures that your organization gets the most from its next project.
Be Prepared to Share Everything
We’re experts in navigating the technical details to design and build whatever tools your organization needs. But you’re the expert in your business. To ensure your project reaches its full potential, we need to see the entire picture of your organization’s goals and how it operates.
From outlining project requirements to sharing insights about your workflow, every detail contributes to stronger end results. When it comes to your project and the problem it needs to resolve, your development partner needs all the information to function at the highest level.
Any project is a relationship. And in a relationship, secrets are destructive. You have to be honest with your agency, and that includes your budget for the project. [Knowing the true amount you have to spend](/insights/website-budget-planning/} enables us to scope the project to your needs and start working as soon as possible.
Remain Transparent About the Process
Sharing information about your project includes all the uncomfortable details. If you tried to resolve a problem with your site a few years ago and something went wrong, we want to hear about it. Or, if you worked with an agency and didn’t have a good experience, you should share those details too.
Being transparent about your project and your experiences helps us avoid similar missteps. And, as a project progresses, you have to be honest about how the process is going for your team. We have a number of specific ways we like to work, but we’re not a one-process-fits-all kind of company. If anything doesn’t fit how you like to work, let us know and we can adjust accordingly.
For example, one of our clients collects all their bug reports in a Microsoft Word document. We can accommodate that. There’s more than one way of working, and our process is flexible enough to accommodate wherever your organization is working, whether that’s Word, Slack, or Google Chat. To keep a project running smoothly, we’d rather adapt to your tools than force anyone to use ours.
Get the Right People in the Room for Your Project
Before your project begins, you should define the core groups to be involved during the engagement. Gathering everyone who will interact with your new digital platform (or their representatives) during the Discovery stage helps us gain an early 360-degree view of its needs.
As development begins, we’ll want to work with a core team of stakeholders who will provide feedback and generally collaborate with us to steer the projects. Allowing the right voices to be heard during the process is crucial. However, you should limit this group to four stakeholders across marketing, IT, content, or sales—whichever teams are most connected to the platform.
Just as importantly, you should select one person from your stakeholder group who has the final say on what is built and how your budget is spent. This person effectively acts as the tiebreaker should your team split on priorities, and they will sign off on the right way forward.
This point of contact doesn’t have to be someone at the executive level. But it should be someone who can connect with your leadership and secure any needed approvals for your project.
Participate Through Every Stage of Design and Development
Finally, organizations who remain engaged during every stage of the development process always see the best results. Development projects are collaborative. Get involved. Ask questions. By providing clear feedback and direction, you ensure your organization gains solutions that serve your needs.
Failing to remain involved with your project is dangerous to its health. At Lincoln Loop, we’re dedicated to an Agile process built on iterative improvements and regular check-ins. That way, you can ensure your project is progressing in the right direction and delivering what you want.
Active participation also includes being frank about what you’re seeing during a project. If you don’t like a detail in your design the first time you see it, you have to say it. Don’t sign off on a project because something is “good enough,” or you want to avoid causing a problem.
Your project operates like molding a clay pot. The farther we go, the clay begins to dry and becomes harder to move. That’s why we ask for involvement every step of the way to avoid breaking pottery and starting over from scratch.
Successful Agency Engagements Rely on a Strong Start
When you’re working with the right development agency, you develop a sense of trust that comes with building a rapport with a collaborative partner. Before you sign on with an agency to fill any gaps in your team, you need to be sure you connect as people.
Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are common in the enterprise space, and some organizations rely on that process to find outside help. But they’re a terrible way to find a real partner. Even if you have to use an RFP, you should get on the phone and talk. It’s the only way you’ll really get to know an agency and understand how they will work with you.
A salesperson can create a fancy slide deck, but that gives no indication of who their team is or how a collaboration will work. For the success of your project, you need to get to know who you’ll be working with every day. Does this sound like the kind of arrangement that will help your organization move forward? We should talk.