How to ensure your project succeeds as a customer
Product development isn’t as simple as buying milk from the corner shop. It’s not a brief transaction with a specific item, but a longer process that should work as an equal partnership. At Thorgate, we always try to exceed the clients’ expectations. Nevertheless, the client can contribute a lot to the projects’ success.
Our developers, team leads and project managers have years of experience with different projects and clients. In this article, we share their insight on why some projects thrive and others... not so much.
These points might sound like any generic relationship advice column, but business relationships work the same way any other successful relationships do. They take time, honesty and deliberate work.
1. Know what you need
A good client is open and forward-looking about their needs. Know exactly what you need, why you need it, and when. Have a clear vision about the final product but be open to suggestions and discussion. It’s
okay to ask for alternatives but being overly stubborn doesn’t help anyone. Have a clearly defined goal of the challenges the soon to be developed solutions aim to solve and why are those areas the ones to address first. If possible, write a clear spec.
2. Communication and respect is the key
Good clear communication is the key to any successful partnership. And no, by communication we don’t mean micromanaging. Respect each other’s time - give input actively and regularly, be responsive and prompt.
If anything changes, notify the other half ASAP. It might seem obvious, but if the client doesn’t give their input on time, it respectively shifts all the other deadlines as well.
3. Trust the experts
Everyone likes to feel valued. A good client respects and trusts the experts and is aware of their effort. You know the value, not only the cost of development work. You appreciate the expert’s advice and accept how things are done.
4. Have a realistic budget
There’s no tiptoeing around it - good product development takes time and money. You should have a comfortable budget and timeline for the project. It’s also quite obvious that if the scope of the project changes, so does the budget. Wasting energy on penny pushing or excessive urgency pulls the focus away from what really matters - the outcome of the project.
5. Know your business
This goes hand in hand with the first point about knowing what you need. Best clients know their business well as do we. By working together and relying on each other's strengths, we will be able to build a product that dots all the i's and crosses all the T's from both the business and technical perspective.
6. Choose the right person to handle things
The person who handles the project from the client’s side should be able to actually manage the process. This includes having enough competence, information and autonomy in the organisation to make real and prompt decisions about the project. If the contact person is merely a mediator between the real decision-maker and the development partner, it might turn into a very unamusing telephone game real fast.
7. Know what you don’t know (and be willing to learn)
It’s always good if the client (especially the person handling the project) is tech-savvy. Knowing how product development works is a big plus, but mutual interest and willingness to learn are even better.
As we’ve said before, product development is a process between equal partners. At Thorgate, we value constant learning and development. We also like to see it in our partners. We’re always happy to learn new things together - and from each other. The best projects are the ones that challenge and teach both parties.
8. Have an inspiring project
Developers are not machines - even though it might seem like that at times. They work better when they’re inspired and genuinely excited about a project. What makes a project inspiring? It should be challenging and technically interesting to work with (e.g. uses up-to-date code). It should solve an actual problem, maybe even change the world! And finally, a pinch of humour never hurts.
9. Don’t underestimate the personal chemistry
Personal chemistry between the client and the development partner, or between the developer and the project itself can turn a good project into a legendary one. All collaborations don’t click and it’s okay. But if they do, magic can happen. Having a cool and relevant project and a friendly proactive attitude can get you far.