Let me start out by saying that it is a rare phenomenon when any project goes smoothly from start to finish. This is regardless of budget or complexity. Whether it is a website for $500 or a mobile application that is in the $20,000 or higher, things can go wrong at any phase of the project. There are many factors that can come into play (which I will touch upon in a different post) and turn a project up on its head, but there are strategies at your disposal to prevent and minimise their negative impact.
When I say prevent and minimise this is because you as the client are always at risk. Why? It comes down to the money. Companies that you hire to complete your project do not serve your interests. Yes, they may put a twist on the classic “client satisfaction is important to us” or “we want to make you happy and meet your expectations so we can work long-term” but that does not always work out.
For example, if you are working with a design, development or SEO/PPC company you have to keep in mind that this type of company is always looking for projects. They need a constant, ideally steady influx of new projects or long-term support contracts to keep the ball rolling. If that influx of new projects were to stop for a significant period of time, the company will be out of business. The period of time the company can hold on and stay in business depends on their financial state, which would include how much they stand to earn from their current business, how many expenses they are faced with and how much the CEO can afford to dip into their savings. If a company is working from project-to-project, they will not hold out long. If they are more resilient, they will first cut expenses and that means going after the staff.
The reason why I went over the above is because the company you are working with is interested in their own budget and profits, rather than yours. They are not working in your interest, contrary to whatever promises they may make. I am not saying this is always the case, but speaking from my own experience, this is EXTREMELY likely.
The job of any sales representative at any company is to seal the deal. They want to get that contract signed and that initial deposit from your pocket and into the company’s account. Then they will celebrate another win and move on. Whatever happens next, is really low-priority. Really. Seriously. That initial deposit is designed to account for the company expenses should the project fall through before the next milestone is paid. For some companies that initial deposit is enough to give them enough funds to pay their designers or developers to keep working. Once you hand over that initial deposit, you can pretty much say bye-bye to it. You are not getting it back.
So now on to the question: why hire a digital consultant? In this case, I am obviously trying to promote my services and there is no point of hiding it. However, allow me to make some points in general in how a digital consultant can be beneficial to you:
A digital consultant works in YOUR interest
A company’s concern is how to get your money. Sure they will try to get your project done so they can get that review from you to boost their profile and get even more projects. But, that is the goal of those companies who are more savvy in how their work with clients. Try their best to get to the finish line and hope for the best you end up happy, so they can get that coveted 5-star review on Google, Clutch or other review platform. They do not work for you. A digital consultant, if they are any good, wants your project to be a success. They are hired to protect your interests.
Imagine a situation (which happens quite often) where you explain all your needs to a company’s sales rep. and they scope it all out for you (sometimes this process goes on for months) and send you the final contract. You sign it in good faith thinking all your expectations have been outlined diligently. Several months into the project, you point out something that you ASSUMED would be included, but was not. The company points to the contract that you signed and says: if it is not in the contract, it will cost you extra to do it. There you go. That extra could be thousands of your dollars or more. If you made any marketing plans, those could go down the drain. If you expected a new platform to boost sales, that is all delayed and could incur additional expenses.
A scope review or project planning by a digital consultant can help prevent the type of headache you would experience or have already experienced. A project planning is exactly that. A digital consultant goes over your ideas and expectations for a project and helps you draft a detailed Scope of Work that you can then present to a company for implementation. This type of service will take time and add to the expense, but consider how much you could stand to lose or spend should things go sideways. Consider a digital consultant as an investment into your project to minimise the risk things will go wrong. It will not be cheap, but it will be cheaper than being left with an unfinished project, buggy website or faced with additional costs down the line. A scope review entails going over a Scope of Work already presented by a company you are looking to hire and to determine whether it is accurate.
A digital consultant can spot the ISSUES and RISKS
A digital consultant has the experience to spot the inherent risks or pitfalls of any type of project. They can see whether another company is doing things in professionally and good faith or just trying to milk you for cash and is not interested in developing their reputation.
Remember, whenever you are negotiating with a company, they want to seal the deal as quickly as possible. Not every-time. Sometimes they get things right, but there is always pressure to get that contract signed and onboard a new client. Remember, they need new clients at any cost. Sales and new clients/projects are the lifeblood of IT-companies. The only exception is if the company is developing their own product for which there is consumer demand. In this case, their priority is to market and attract more and more users. The concept is pretty similar.
Therefore, this leads us into a situation where the company does not include everything you ASSUMED would be there. They might even miss what you DISCUSSED or MENTIONED should be there. Why? Probably because the project budget would be even higher than you expect, which would scare you from signing the deal. The thinking goes: if we omit this stuff that would double the project budget, they sign on, maybe we can get them to pay more once you have already committed a sizeable amount to the project. It would be easier to agree to pay extra, than to lose or fight over the money you already spent. The risk is pretty high. They are banking on the risk that you will agree to pay them more or worst case they will just keep whatever you already paid.
The reason I set up Smokyfish Ltd. as a digital consulting company is because I grew tired of working for a company and not for client success. As a digital consultant, I can work FOR YOU so that your project is a success.
A digital consultant CAN SPEAK FREELY about the good, the bad and the ugly
When you are speaking to someone in the company, they are not at liberty to tell you that you are being swindled or that a project is going downhill. There are many things that need to be run up in the chain of command and messaging needs to be filtered through management. Employees are worried about collecting their salary and sales needs that extra commission. Management needs that next invoice paid or milestone deposited. No one can really tell you about what is happening behind the scenes. A digital consultant CAN TELL YOU. They will not know what exactly is going on in a company you have hired, but they can read between the lines of any message you are receiving. A digital consultant also know what questions you should ask.
When you choose a digital consultant, you can hire them short-term or long-term. Short-term is for initial planning, review or occasional question. Long-term digital consulting is when you onboard a digital consulting company to help you from start to finish along the way. If you want that extra help along the way, but do not want to hire a permanent employee just for a 1-year project, you can hire a company to jump in as your own personal project manager. Smokyfish Ltd. for example is available for contract hire. If you do not have the time or are having difficulty keep track of a project, consider hiring a digital consulting company that will work with you as a go-between to increase the chances your project will be a success.