I define engagement as when you’ve decided to hire someone to solve your problem or fulfill a need. You’re now ready to engage with them.
The question really lies in how you want to engage with the agency, and much of that is determined by your budget.
As a professional, what I like to think of myself as, the optimal engagement would include rounds of discussions around the specific problem or need, how your company has defined the need and what your customer base is saying.
From there we create mock interfaces and watch as existing or paid users interact with the product. Learn lessons and refine the product to best suit the customer needs.
Once this is complete we get into the technical requirements, what each item does, how that will be executed.
Throughout the process we constantly consult with a senior technical advisor to ensure we’re on a path that is obtainable with today’s technology and/or determine if custom applications need to be built to solve a problem.
The problem with this refined type of engagement is two fold, let me explain:
- People or companies often times want to get up and running as soon as possible.
- The define and refine process takes time, time takes money, not everyone has the benefit of a large budget.
To solve #1, many people or agencies will jump on the “Agile” bandwagon, which is great if your agency is well versed in agile development, and the customers internal team understands and is on board with how agile works.
Agile is great for rapid development and deployment on an ever changing project.
GET TO MARKET!
But a lot of agencies and companies don’t fully understand agile, as such it can become a time drain and projects can fail.
#2, Budget, budget, budget! As lovers of technology we want to build awesome products and experiences that will have a positive effect on people.
Too often as an agency or freelancer I’m given the opportunity to build something really cool on a less than large budget. Which often means the initial phases of test, define, refine are partially or completely thrown out!
This is a horrible way to execute a project, taking a problem, thinking of a solution, creating that solution and deploying the product.
What did I miss in this process? User input!!!
User input is an absolutely essential component to building any type of interactive solution.
The question is - do we go forward with the build regardless, accommodating the budget constraints and skipping an all-important step?
Do we make it a necessity for every project we execute on?
Personally, we’re not quite at the make it a necessity place yet, but hope to be in the future.
Strike that -
I hope to be in a position where we can effectively demonstrate the value in a refined process, and our clients agree thus budgeting accordingly.
Do you follow a defined process for executing your projects?
Do you prefer working with an agency/freelancer that has a well defined process?
Let me know your thoughts.