Whether it’s eating your own dog food, drinking your own champagne or bathing in your own goats’ milk, it’s not something that consultants always like to do, particularly when it’s their own money being spent.
But this is what we did, and we quite liked it.
There was clear need for a change to our web presence. The business has developed nicely, along with a strong reputation for making a lasting difference in organisations, not being prepared to accept the norms of the industry and to innovate and put concepts into practice, so we wanted an uncluttered presence representing an uncomplicated approach.
We decided to find someone with the right design and technical skills in the local area. We wanted collaboration, fast turn around, ideas to market quickly, value for money and a sustainable relationship. After doing a wide trawl of the area we found two potential partners to speak with – the first on the basis of an impressive web presence of their own and the second on the basis of recommendation. We chose the second partner, attracted by a promise to draw the design concepts through into other artefacts, along with a significantly lower estimated cost.
Although selected, and we were very eager to press on, gut feel kicked in, using experience to identify a minor concern about capacity to deliver, initially only due to their regular reference to deadlines. So, before we would commit I asked for a proposed schedule of activities. Just to reassure the agile zealots, it’s not that we were going to hold them to a plan for something we were unsure about, but I knew it would focus the discussion and we would better understand the proposed process, dependencies and uncertainties.
That’s just what it did and within no time we had the frank conversation and decided that it was better to find an alternative partner, before anyone lost any sleep.
To plan B. Actually, the first potential partner was still ready and waiting in the wings and, because we took the time to provide useful feedback to them and built a good relationship, there was no barrier to working together.
It’s at this point we really started to eat/drink/bathe. We wrote out our vision, value drivers and a set of user stories. We took these to the partner and within a couple of hours they understood what we wanted and why, who the people were who might be using our site, what our priorities were, what our key messages were and, most importantly, who we were. We left them with a prioritised list, we dumped the low value/high complexity/high cost items and had a clear idea of the iterative build.
This paid other dividends of course: it reduced the estimated cost by 30% and we even got a discount because the partner was learning so much from us in the process.
Within days we had designs to review, followed by a draft to issue to reviewers to gain great feedback. We got the first release to market within two weeks of the green light, costs well under control, a way of working that allows us to prioritise the next set of features and, most importantly, an impressive new web presence which represents who we are.
Thanks Symphony, we couldn’t have done it without each other. Happy to share the dog food with you any time.