Many first-time clients don’t know what to expect when they sign on to work with us. After all, most of our clients don’t focus exclusively on interactive or user experience projects day in and day out like we do.
The process of working with a consulting firm can differ in unexpected ways from working with an agency. To help set clear expectations and pave the way to project success, we’ve put together a list of the most important things you can do to ensure your project runs smoothly:
- Know and communicate your priorities at the outset. Unlike many typical agency relationships, we don’t tell you what your business priorities should be. We listen to your goals and help you accomplish them. We believe that you know your business, and we know user experience. You tell us what your priorities are, and it’s our job to help you achieve those priorities online in the most effective way. If your top priority is timeline, let us know and we’ll ensure that we plan project scope to ensure the project is complete on schedule. If your top priority is scope, let us know and we’ll make sure to plan for the proper staff and timeframe to get it all done. We always listen to, and ensure successful delivery of, client objectives–but we can’t help you meet your goals if you haven’t agreed upon them as a business, or if you don’t tell us what they are. We don’t take offense when you provide the vision. In fact, we love it!
- Plan to spend time and resources on your project. The most successful projects are born out of strong partnerships with the client team. Whether it’s a usability test, strategy session, or site redesign, we can’t do it without you! Though we’ve gathered an abundance of knowledge about the industries we work with often–healthcare, medical devices, online printing, benefits administration–you are the expert in your field. We need you to be fully engaged, we need you to bring your ideas to the table, and we need your input on the work. Our most successful projects are the ones with the most collaborative relationships with the client team. These projects allow our clients to maximize their expertise in their industry, and allow us to maximize our expertise in the interactive space. We’re not vendors or dictators, we’re collaborators. And we love it when our clients participate in the process!
- Talk to us: Call us, email us, post messages to basecamp, send smoke signals–whatever the medium, we love to hear from you. Successful relationships are based on direct, honest communication and we strive to cultivate an atmosphere in which frank and open discourse flourishes. If you don’t like something we’ve done, or if we’ve missed the mark, we want you to tell us. If you changed your mind about your priorities, tell us. We work hard to maintain transparency in our work and let you know exactly what to expect from us. But in order to ensure that our understanding of the project is consistent with your expectations, we need to know what your expectations are. We want you to feel empowered to speak up with questions or concerns about our methodology, our process, or our deliverables. Silence and apathy is a lot harder for us to work with than opinions, phone calls, and emails.
- Get (and stay) familiar with the project schedule. It’s not just ourproject schedule, it’s your project schedule, too! We use the calendar feature in basecamp to communicate the plan for your project–and as anyone who has ever created or used a project plan knows–they often change. Although we’re responsible for producing most of the deliverables for the project, we assign deadlines to our clients as well. Keeping up-to-date on project milestones and deadlines will help you know what to expect from us, and when you’ll need to allocate resources and time to the project. We pride ourselves on not missing project deadlines – but we can only do that when our clients provide inputs, feedback, and approval according to the project schedule.
It all comes down to this: working with us is just that–working with us. Our most successful client relationships and projects are those where both our team and yours are clear about the priorities and are actively involved in creating, reviewing, and managing the project work and schedule.
Do you have any questions about what it’s like to work with us? If you do, don’t hesitate to ask.
By Gregg Harrison
Gregg’s passion for all things digital started two decades ago as a project manager and has expanded over the years to include a focus on user experience consulting, client management, and operations.View Gregg's Bio
By Mahtab Rezai
Principal & CEO
Mahtab has spent nearly two decades as a user experience designer, researcher, strategist, leader, and mentor. She has designed user experiences for companies ranging from startups to the Fortune 50.View Mahtab's Bio