Retention Through Agile Project Management
As an established digital agency, we are constantly navigating an ever-changing industry. What works today, can often become redundant tomorrow. In striving to continually deliver highly tailored solutions we are moving toward agile project management.
13 years of customer relationships has helped mould this approach. As with any service provider, understanding a customer and their “pain-points” is only part of the process. Of late, we have found ourselves uttering the words “out of scope” far too often, which can often disrupt the flow of any project, and from time to time, jeopardised future collaboration.
Communication became a key focus area for us. Especially with projects that included high levels of complexity and external service providers contracted in. To combat potential breakdowns in communication, we decided the best approach was to phase projects out, implementing a crucial “Discovery Phase” as the first point of call.
The “Discovery Phase” aimed to educate customers as well as scope out the extent of work to come. Our costings also evolved into more detailed breakdowns, expressing line-for-line what the projects includes. This clarity empowered our customers to challenge us on any line item upfront as well as negotiate what parts of the project they are required before commencing. We were happy to accommodate customer interactions such as “change requests” or “scheduled meetings”, however in the event a customer took advantage of these opportunities, we had to clearly stipulate guidelines such as tracking the time on a “time and material” basis.
NAVIGATING THIRD-PARTY SERVICE PROVIDERS
Given we are a small/medium sized business and the nature of some of the projects we undertake, it was a racing certainty we couldn’t be everything to every customer. Our third-party service providers posed a real “road block” in our agile approach. After all we can only guarantee and take responsibility for work we delivered, however still owed it to the customer to be as transparent as possible in this regard.
Historically we tried numerous approaches dealing with preferred suppliers. Some methods were smooth, and others a bit more challenging which resulted in unnecessary “school fees” accompanied by a bruised ego. Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer says it best:
We took this to heart when considering agile project management amongst third-party service providers. The only clear way to protect ourselves as well as our customers was to conduct the integration with a third-party service provider as earnestly as possible until such a time we have the capacity to service the request in-house. It’s imperative a customer was informed third-party involvement was imminent down-the-line. A clear handover was then outlined upon reaching a specific project milestone. This didn’t mean we washed our hands of the project when reaching the milestone and were still entrenched in the intricacies of the job. However, the line in the sand was drawn plainly for all to see, eliminating an unwelcome surprise once we were already down the rabbit hole.
We trust you have found value in the above article and encourage all businesses that provide a service to take an honest look at themselves and the way they position themselves in their respective market. If you are adding in “extra meat” on your cost estimates to cover yourselves, chances are your customer retention isn’t thriving. Adopt agile project management to boost retention and encourage brand loyalty.