When Oversimplifying Effects Digital Projects & Teams

February 26, 2020

Austeja Ziemba

As projects start to get worked on, it’s become readily apparent that as humans we tend to oversimplify the actual work necessary to complete something. This trend continues into the digital field; whereby, I have sat down with our Director or Client Success, Austeja, to dig a little deeper.

Austeja:  But I think in general, what we’re moving towards is understanding the complexity of the project from the beginning.  So I think in general, we underestimate how difficult things could be, or could seem to somebody else. This goes along with the communication aspect.  But, as cloud’s often have these product sets, or websites that have multiple components to them, and they live and breathe these sites, right? So the marketing energies are consistently going in there and updating concepts or data or whatever, and when they’re offloading the information to us when we’re going to start a project, it’s almost, you know, we can’t take what’s out of your head and put it into ours.  There has to be some sort of transfer of information. So as much as we can have processes around that, there still has to be that give and take and an understanding of, there’s going to be a transfer. And so it’s got to be an understanding on both sides that will take a little bit of time and organization. And the more we can have a clear understanding of where we’re going, and what it takes, the better it gets.

 Tony:  So, give me an example.  Like, what’s an example of a client that, is it more they don’t have the time, or the knowledge?  Do they simplify it? Like, let’s say it’s a client that’s needing to transfer knowledge to us. Why isn’t that happening?  Is that because there’s not the time devoted to it. A process that we put in place to help them do it? Or, it’s just, they’re simplifying it to us and then we don’t realize the complexity beyond it.  

Austeja:  It’s a lack of a clear definition on both sides, right?  So, yes, you signed a scope, yes, you agreed to do it, to work on a project with us.  But that the end of the day, there’s still going to be a time investment, no matter what.  It’s can’t just be a set-it-and-forget-it. I think as much as it would be easier to do that, it doesn’t result in a good end project.  So I think, going in, any company that’s going to work with us has to understand and agree to the fact that they will be partners, and we will be partners to them, and that means, you know, 50/50 or 25/75.  Whatever it is. But there has to be an input of time and understanding, and communication to make it work.

Tony:  So, would you say that on the client’s side, in terms of expectations of timing, their involvement, it’s almost always underestimated.

Austeja:  Yes.  I think the thought is, “Hey, I’m going to sign this scope, and you’re going to build me a product.”  And there is a misunderstanding of how much effort it’ll take on their part. Because, yes, we’re providing a product, but the product is essentially thoughts, ideas and insights, and all of that, in a cool package for them.  But there’s a lot of input that they need to provide for us to make it one that relates to them and resonates with them.

Tony:  Well, and it’s interesting, because it plays off of an earlier conversation I had with Raoul of the difference between vendorship and partnership, and the difference between taking ideas and really digital strategy, versus a design and build-type shop.  So, are there ways for clients to identify, I guess, should all clients be willing to divulge a bunch of their time? Is it certain types? I guess, how would they self-identify? Or how would we identify which ones actually should invest it? Because I’ve got to imagine that in certain cases, some businesses, it might be best just throwing it over the fence.  “Hey, scope’s signed, you need to do it, because that’s what’s best for their business and them.” But are there certain types, are there certain telltale signs, so that you don’t get into bed. So let’s say, somebody needs a more integrated partner, all right, they need the time involvement, and I have seen a lot of cases where they think they’re getting that.  They sign up. And then they work with an agent. Well, they, again, everything they say is like, “Well, they didn’t spend the time. They didn’t train me. They didn’t tell me I needed that.” And then, to me, that’s screaming, “You need somebody that’s doing digital strategy.” And then vice versa, right? There’s some clients that might come to an agency like us and they actually might need, or they certainly don’t want, that digital strategy.  They want more, so are there things that you’ve seen that kind of help separate them out?

Austeja:  Sure.  So I find it hard to believe in the agency space for the types of services that we provide, that you could get away with just the set-it-and-forget-it approach, or sign-it and off-it-goes.  I think the nature of the service prevents the client from being able to do that. So I think these aren’t the kind of services that are product-based, right. Like, yes, for web app, we are providing you with an end result of a product, but the amount of the work that goes into getting there is, I mean, obviously a lot of it is on the agency side, on our side, but it is the client working together with us in order to achieve that.  So I think that nature of agency services just is conducive to having a client who’s going to be very invested. And anything short of that will result in either an unhappy client, a frustrated agency, or a really crappy product.

Tony:  Yeah.

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