When our team talks to clients who are interested in bringing us in to help solve their UX challenges, the beginning feels a lot like dating. We’re putting our best foot forward because it’s a new relationship and sometimes we might get a little nervous or anxious because of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.
In this early phase of the relationship, we’re focused on asking questions that gauge both compatibility and readiness because working well together and being prepared to work together is a great combination – one that often increases the likelihood of a successful project.
Once we’ve moved past the “getting to know you” phase, it’s time to start digging deeper so we can iron out the granular details. We’ve compiled a checklist that will better prepare both sides because just like a pilot, we have to run through our checklist before we can have a successful takeoff.
There’s a lot of upfront effort in the initial conversations to gain alignment on both sides. Stating and restating your goals is always a good practice. Digital projects are complicated so we can’t assume anything, we have to ask questions to confirm each side understands the other. More often than not, it’s important to have several meetings or working sessions in the initial scoping phase to state the goal(s) and how to align outcomes with each goal.
A lot of times there can be confusion as to who is doing what inside of a project. Before the project kicks off, talk about who is actively working on the project, identify key decision makers, and how both teams will communicate with each other going forward. If there are particular preferences you have or a specific way you like to work, talk about it.
Set realistic expectations.
One of the best questions to ask is: Have we set realistic expectations that tie directly back to our project goals? A bigger team or more moving parts don’t necessarily mean a quicker pace. Sometimes it can actually have the reverse outcome. When everyone is watching out for the other person’s best interest, things move rather quickly because everyone is engaged. Also, be sure to readjust expectations if something changes along the way because change is OK and expected.
Tie needs to goals and outcomes.
When providing feedback, evaluate each request and tie everything back to the predefined goals established at the beginning of the project. Taking personal opinions out of the equation makes decision-making much easier because it’s no longer about what someone likes or dislikes and more about the standards that should be met to meet a specific goal(s).
Enter fully prepared.
This might seem like a simple rule, but it’s important to enter into the project ready to tackle whatever lies ahead. It’s easier to check off things that are already done or complete but also ask: What haven’t I prepared yet that will be beneficial before the project kickoff?
We like to think of our clients as partners and we hope they feel the same way about us. This simple change in mindset often has a significant impact on how well a project runs moving forward. When you think of the way you collaborate with colleagues inside your own organization and then apply those same principles to other situations, the work and relationships you build along the way become so much richer.
Value the work.
Take a moment to evaluate the work and appreciate the inherent value it will bring to your organization. Engaging in the process and showing excitement about what our teams are crafting is always a good step in the right direction. When the work is valued and the people working together understand that value, there always a greater sense of responsibility to achieve or exceed expected outcomes.
Digital projects are always evolving, and together we’ll decide how best to proceed. The projects that are the most successful often have a general structure that guides the process and high-level activities, but leaving a little room to make adjustments or changes along the way is also important. As we progress we learn more, and some of these learnings might tie back into the work we do. Staying flexible can be helpful in these times.
This is a simple list that’s highly effective when put into practice. Give it a try before you kick off your next digital project and let us know how it works out for you.