- Software Processes
Have you been disappointed By Your Last Software Project?
Have you been disappointed By Your Last Software Project ?
We are a digital product agency – agency is the most important word in that sentence. Customers hire us to bring their digital products to life and elevate their business through strategy, design, and development. We have to deliver a net positive return on investment (ROI) for our clients. As an agency, we understand that collaboration is extremely important is to have amazing results in software projects - in facts in any business endeavors. And, unfortunately, we know some time agencies feel short on delivering not only the products but amazing communication.
Do any of the following ring true to you ?
Things started out well but then you and the agency you hired stopped working together.
- The agency teams and ours were not aligned
- As a company we wished the agency communicated better and that they give more frequent updates
- Unfortunately we never had positive relationships with any of the agencies we hired
- The last agency we worked with did not understand our business and what mattered to us.
While we wish none of the scenarios above applied, we have heard things like this over the years from prospects and clients about their previous agency relationships. We will say it – not all agency/client relationships go well! But we at Weblysoft always assume that they can and should go well.
The goal of this article is to showcase the different strategies we use at Weblysoft to prevent these undesirable outcomes.
We create more than projects - We build Partnerships.
Our customers are experts in their field. From the initial conversation all the way through to the end of a project, we rely on the client team to serve as the subject matter experts of their industry. Simultaneously, we operate as the experts in our respective crafts – product strategy, product design, web & mobile development, and test engineering (QA). Leaning on each team’s core strengths allow us to create meaningful work together. We’ve found that a partnership philosophy allows our relationship with our customers to flourish, instead of being focused on individually scoped aspects of a product.
Many times, we are hired to collaborate closely with an existing team inside an organization. Whether that group is managing DevOps, back end development, mobile & web development, growth – we’ve had experience adjusting processes to fit the needs of specific clients teams. This is where the power of partnerships really makes an impact. By breaking down walls & identifying how to stay aligned during an engagement, we are able to fit into an organization’s workflow to make meaningful advances on digital products.
Active Listening For Active Learning.
Creating value requires a creative problem-solving team that learns and unlearns fast. This is why we prioritize listening from the get go. To truly understand what makes an engagement successful, it requires a significant amount of discussion and research. Upfront, we ask questions that get to things like must-haves, nice-to-haves, cost centers, alternatives, impact areas, and more. It’s imperative to understand the landscape and business value for every client engagement.
We know there are different ways to the return on investment of what the resources you put into your software project. However, if we can have a shared understanding of what the end results need to be and work backwards, we can start off on the right foot.
Leveling the playing field.
Whether our clients are in Cameroon or headquartered in Washington DC, our process looks fairly similar. Using tools like Slack, Zoom, Google Meet and others we will get into later, we are in frequent communication with our customers to ensure that everyone is aligned and feedback is being delivered in a timely manner. We use scrum-like ceremonies so that our priorities are clear for each 1-2 week sprint. Many of those meetings are attended by the client. Others are more asynchronous in nature. We find that the most successful engagements are those where collaboration is high & communication is frequent, no matter where our clients are located.
Our Concrete strategies For Great Communication & Delivery.
We are committed to a process that we believe in. Our team is constantly refining our approach to build products that produce the highest value to our clients. The result of that is true collaboration between our teams – an extension of each other vs. traditional agency-client silos. Here are some specific ways in which we promote high levels of collaboration.
SHARED SLACK CHANNELS
- As we onboard clients, we create a shared Slack channel for our team and theirs to regularly communicate about the engagement. This is where we may post daily standup updates, share designs for immediate feedback, post recordings of user testing, troubleshoot on an issue, and more. Creating this space takes almost no time and generates so much value over the course of the engagement. What used to be reserved for weekly calls back in the day can be addressed and solved within minutes. Frequent communication is best.
- Depending on the project, our project management software may change. We’ve used tools like Asana, Jira, ClickUp, and others to track progress on every engagement. Regardless of the tool, it’s imperative that all parties are invited and using a system so that there’s a mutual understanding of what’s in progress, what’s upcoming, and what’s getting in the way. As mentioned above, our clients often have well-established tools that we get invited into. Other times, we may create a new project from scratch and add our clients as users. The point being: everyone should have access to all the information at hand.
- This is especially helpful when we’re hired for the frontend development, for example, while our client handles the backend. This is a scenario where “playing nice with others” is especially crucial. We’ve thrived in this style of collaboration and rely on tools to ensure we’re all marching to the beat of the same drum.
STRATEGY & ALIGNMENT SESSIONS
- Almost every engagement kicks off with a Strategy & Alignment session. Ideally, these are done in-person, but we’ve had clients call in from all over the globe to join these 1-2 day workshops thanks to tools like Zoom .
- Out of these sessions, the collective team identifies key value propositions, core problems we are solving with technology, and unique offerings that product development with bring. Together, we often create a story spine, which is used as a basis to start capturing the initial needs for design and development. These are later logged into a PM tool, allowing the team to quickly move into sprints.
- In addition to those outcomes, this kickoff session helps to set the tone for the engagement and builds trust & rapport between teams.
BI-WEEKLY CLIENT SATISFACTION CALLS
- As our engagements move into a regular rhythm, we realize the importance of “zooming out” to assess how things are going. To accomplish this, we set up bi-weekly calls between our clients and members of our leadership team to speak candidly about how things are going. These conversations help to illuminate what’s going well and what could be improved that may not as naturally come up during retrospectives and other meetings that are regularly taking place.
- Sometimes, our engagements span 6-12 months or more. When this is the case, we’ve found it’s important to schedule and conduct summits with the team at large. These meetings often bring in ancillary stakeholders who are being affected by the work but may not be as involved in the day-to-day. It’s a chance to demo what’s been completed, assess the roadmap, and identify a shared path forward.
SETTING UP THE ENGAGEMENT
- Before all of this can begin, paperwork needs to get completed. We’ve written about our approach to agile contracting before. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, but loosening fixed scopes to a more duration and price methodology has allowed us to stay flexible with our clients with the inevitable changes of a project crop up. This requires a high level of trust and collaboration with our clients, and ultimately results in process where the team is focused on results – not a spec sheet.
Over the last two years of business, Weblysoft has partnered with companies on all spectrums of the business lifecycle. During that time, we have built hundreds of digital products (web apps, mobile apps, websites, smart watch apps and much more). We’ve had the privilege of working with high-growth startups looking to scale fast, small businesses wanting to increase margins by gains in efficiency, and $1B+ enterprises building new lines of revenue through innovation.
We are a team of creative thinkers and doers that simplify the complex. We are radically transparent with our internal team, clients and partners – working together to create trust, do good work, and create amazing products. Applying our deep experience across sectors, audiences, and platforms, we envision new possibilities with our clients and deliver innovative solutions that bring these visions to life. Collaboration is a natural part of that.
We’d love to be the shop you hire to join forces with your internal team to build the products your business needs. Get in touch today to learn how we can partner to achieve great results, together.