We often receive web project inquiries that look something like this: “Please give us a quote for how much it would cost to get XYZ”. “XYZ” is usually a nice bulleted list consisting of requirements such as a content management system, online event registration, a member-only web community, a blog, a forum, integration with a Salesforce database, and so on.
We do these things really well. By leveraging existing systems and adding some custom code, we are able to deliver a great set of tools with great Salesforce integration. Just what they wanted, right?
Here’s the problem: Too often those lists of requirements are based entirely on what a CEO loosely articulated, what a competitor did last month, some blog reading, or a lot of friends with opinions. A recent post on Smashing Magazine – 7 Essential Guidelines for Functional Design – is a good read for those considering the “XYZ” approach.
C. Murray Consulting Oomph, our best success stories consistently come from projects where we’ve had the opportunity to engage with clients at the requirements level – to put everything on the table and leave no question unasked. When we understand our clients’ needs at least as well as they do (maybe even better), we’re able to leverage our Web expertise to tell them what they really need, why they need it, and the best way to get there.
The process starts by stepping back and focusing on the end goal – that means the end user. With that in mind, we can define what “success” means in the context of the project at hand. Can we really call an online registration system a success if attendance at the conference decreases 30% from last year? Can we call the online member community a success if there is little-to-no participation in the community three months after launch?
It is amazing how different the requirements list for a development project looks after a consulting engagement such as this. What the client first describes as a huge, complex project sometimes turns out to be best served with a basic tool like WordPress. Sometimes we find that a fully featured system such as CitySoft is the right direction when the original requirement was only “an event registration system.”
So, what was it that you needed again? Shall we talk strategy?