DPM Podcast

DPM Podcast: Contracting The Agile Way (With Alexa Huston)

By 20/09/2018 December 10th, 2018 No Comments

This podcast is part of an article published on The Digital Project Manager.
You can read the article here.

Ben Aston:

Welcome to the Digital PM podcast, where we go beyond theory to give expert PM advice for leading digital projects better.

Thanks for tuning in, I’m Ben Aston, founder of the Digital Project Manager. I wonder if you’re familiar with this classic project management debacle, where you inherit a project from a business development team and for some reason, some strange reason, the budget that’s been assigned to the project doesn’t seem to have any relationship at all to the work being done.

Well, it happens all the time, right? And it’s incredibly stressful for the project manager, for the team delivering the work, and then ultimately the client, who, more often than not, ends up being disappointed with the work that’s delivered.

This episode is sponsored by Resource Guru, the resource scheduling tool used by teams at companies like Apple, Ogilvy, Deloitte, and Publicis. DPM listeners can get 20% off for the lifetime of their account with the coupon code DPM2018.

Learn more at resourceguru.io/dpm

So, today we’re talking about a better way to the contracting madness that so many of us struggle with. And, really, I think this is a conversation that goes really beyond project management, is a bigger conversation. It’s kind of a conversation that’s … Is crossovered between project management and new business, between contracting and operations, and really, we’ve got to find a better way. So, if you’re familiar at all with the kind of contracting and statements of work struggles that I’ve just mentioned, then you’re gonna love today’s show, which is really all about a different engagement model. So keep listening to discover how you can prevent a whole world of pain trying to descope project before they’ve even started.

My special guest today, on the show is Alexa Huston, from Crema. Alexia is a former DPM turned new biz gal. So she understands this challenge from the perspective of new business trying to sell, and the project manager trying to deliver. So I’m looking forward to an interesting conversation.

Now, Alexa’s also one of our resident DPM experts at the Digital Project Management School, so if you want to learn more from her, check out our Mastering Digital Project Management School, where she’ll be making an appearance. So go to Resourceguru.io/dpm.

Hello, and welcome, Alexa!

Alexa Huston:

Thanks for having me!

Ben Aston:

So, Alexa, tell us, what is new in the world of Alexa? I believe you’re about to embark on a big adventure.

Alexa Huston:

You know the phrase, “When it rain, it pours?”

That usually is a negative thing, but there’s a lot of positive things going on, so I got engaged in the last month and a half, and then a week later, my fiance’s company offered him a new role in Phoenix, so we’re moving to the desert.

And, as a function of that, I put a proposal together to keep my job at Crema, because I love it. And I’m lucky enough to say that they accepted it, so I’ll be working remotely for the first time in my life. And, you know we’re planning a wedding, there’s just a bunch of stuff.

Ben Aston:

So, tell us about wedding planning, then. Obviously, you know, wedding planning is project management. Have you got a wedding planner? Are you project managing this whole thing?

Alexa Huston:

I’m smiling so big. I … We ended up hiring a wedding coordinator and planner because we’re doing it in Mexico, and we’ve picked a venue that we haven’t even been to, in a city we’ve never visited. So, sight unseen’s a little scary and we’re getting married in eight months, so all those things combined, I was like, “I need some help.”

Ben Aston:

So your risk mitigation strategy is hire a wedding planner and hope that they can do it.

Alexa Huston:

Seriously, and we actually had a first call, our first call with her last night and she’s awesome. But being a recovering project manager myself, I’ve been asking her, it’s like stakeholder management, I’ve been asking her like, “Hey, what’s your preference on this process? I’m seeing you’re doing things this way, is that a great way you want to move forward, or is there anything we could be doing differently.” So it’s been a fun little balance.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, I think project managing a project manager, when you’re a project manager yourself and you’re hiring a project manager, I feel like you’re always nervous, at least for the first bit where you’re like, “Do they know how to do this?”

Alexa Huston:

I know, even yesterday, I said, “Hey, do you mind sending me a fully executed contract, because I only have a version with my signature lines on it.” And she’s probably like, “Sure.”

Ben Aston:

Oh, that is fun. Well, good luck with the wedding planning.

Alexa Huston:

Thanks!

Ben Aston:

And, in Mexico in a place you’ve never been to, so …

Alexa Huston:

It’ll be fine, it’s a mango grove slash restaurant slash, they have tree houses you can stay in. It’s beautiful.

Ben Aston:

Oh, I’m looking to it already.

Alexa Huston:

Yeah.

Ben Aston:

Cool, so tell us a bit more about your … How your role’s going to change then? I mean, you’re going from a … I think this is an interesting topic, thinking about, okay how does your role change when you go from being kind of an in-house employee to then going remote. As you, for other people who are thinking, “Hey, I quite like the idea of being a remote worker, and not having to go into the office anymore,” what was your kind of strategy, obviously you’re moving. So, in some ways they didn’t have a choice, but what was your strategy around kind of putting that together, and what’s your approach for working remotely?

Alexa Huston:

Right, so. You nailed it. My strategy was, “I’m moving no matter what, but let me list out a list of benefits to the business, why it would be good for me to work remotely.” And I’m lucky enough … So in the last year and a half, Crema, more and more Crema employees have been working remotely, especially within the last three months it’s been like a very interesting sort of trend.

So this has already been something that the business has been focusing on, is how do we think about a distributed workforce, how do we think about a remote team. So I feel lucky in that manner. But I basically, being in new business, I framed up the opportunities there are in a new market in why it’d be good for me to be down there. But also pointing back to the results that I’ve been able to achieve, you know, in our results based culture, because while I am normally in the office, I do have the option to work remotely, so I just tried to highlight all the reasons why it’s good for the business, and then I put together some sort of communications strategy and general timeline to make sure that everyone felt comfortable with it.

And in addition to that, this is kind of a plot twist, so there’s one other new biz dev guy in the company, and we’ve been doing the same thing. But as we get bigger, we realized we needed to specialize our roles a little more, and so I was recommended a book called Predictable Revenue. Which has been awesome, and we’ve basically been taking that and shaping it into what it means for us.

So I’m going to be moving up toward the top of the funnel, more outbound sales, which is a new thing for me. So email campaigns to companies that have no idea who we are. In hopes that will generate more leads and then I’ll ultimately, ideally, qualify some leads and pass those to Nate, who’s my colleague, who will then requalify and move them through our sales pipe.

Because right now, we’ve been relying a lot on referrals and different strategies that aren’t as predictable, though that’s another change in my life that I’m trying to lean into.

Ben Aston:

Well, all change … I found the … because I’ve started working for an agency, contracting, that again is, yeah, is actually 100% remote. And it’s a very different beast, working for a totally distributed team to … yeah, to working when everyone’s in the office and you can just wander over. Trying to get ahold of people, I think it is always a challenge.

Alexa Huston:

It is a challenge, and it’s new, and even this week I’m like, I’m sending messages to people and I was feeling like it was falling on deaf ears, and I don’t think it was, it’s just, I have to frame up my conversations differently, and make them more action oriented if I really do need a response, or not being afraid to just give them a call if they’re available.

You know, finding ways to close the communication with …

Ben Aston:

Yeah, definitely. And I think one thing I’m finding really helpful is just using Zoom all the time. The temptation can be … You just start living in Slack, but always reverting … It’s more disrupting, you have to put more effort into it. You have to make sure there’s not food on your clothes. But, you know, trying to make the effort to actually have a conversation with someone, rather than just like, slacking, I think can be really helpful.

Alexa Huston:

I agree.

Ben Aston:

So, have you found … I mean you talked about this, I guess this book you’ve been reading, but have you found anything else recently that’s been making your life awesome?

Alexa Huston:

This is the really simple example but it really has helped. I bought a nice notebook off Amazon that has a little ribbon bookmark and it has a little slot on the side for my pen and I’ve been trying to figure out my right balance between being digital with my notes and writing some stuff down. And before I got this nice notebook, I was just using something that didn’t have any marker of where I was. So all my notes were out of order, and it was driving me nuts. And I feel it’s such a simple change, but it’s making my life much better to feel like I have my stuff together.

Ben Aston:

The ribbon effect.

Alexa Huston:

It’s the ribbon effect. Yeah.

Ben Aston:

That’s awesome. Did you know, I’ve started using a notebook again. Because I find I have my Trello cards, my Trello system, I’ve got Evernotes, and then it’s also, yeah I’ve gone back to … Actually, when I’m just trying to … I just get distracted too easily.

So if I’m trying to think about something and write notes down, I’m way more effective doing that. What do you call it, writing? I’m way more effective writing it down, going analog, than being on my computer or phone and typing and like, oh, this thing pops up and you get distracted.

Alexa Huston:

Totally, I think that’s a good example of just being self-aware, and experimenting with different methods, because I use a ton of tools too and sometimes I just get a little tool fatigue. And so I’m trying to simplify things. Just write it down.

Ben Aston:

Yeah. And use your ribbon. Get a ribbon notebook.

Alexa Huston:

Get a ribbon!

Ben Aston:

We’ll include a link. In the transcript.

Cool, so let’s talk about your article and revisit that scenario that I mentioned at the beginning. That we’re only all too painfully familiar with. So, our business team wants to sell. That’s your role in business development. I’ve just actually come off a role in business development. We want to sell, so, in order to sell, we make this big and seemingly generous offer to the client. We’re trying to win the work. Often the temptation is we undersell it a bit. Make ourselves look favorable against the competitors. Sometimes the idea can be, well, hey, the first product’s a loss leader. Which, by the way, I think is a terrible idea.

But, and sometimes it’s just because it’s not scoped out well enough. You know, we kind of think it’s a bit of a long shot, we tell the client, “Hey, sure, we’ll do it for 100k.” But it’s actually a 200k project.

Now, typically, I think with an agency, what we’re usually trying to sell in is retainer, sometimes. That’s kind of ideal. A fixed fee contract, a time and materials contract, well I know there’s been a lot of excitement about value based contracts. But with any of these, after the client signs, the trouble often starts. Because the project gets passed to the project manager who then gets tasked with delivering this project but with not enough budget to do it properly.

So what is the better way? Well, Alexa has written an article about a different kind of contract and so check out the article to read more about it. But we’re gonna discuss that today, and it’s a duration and price based contract.

So could this be the solution to our contracting woes? Alexa, tell us about duration and price based contracts. How does this work? What is this thing?

Alexa Huston:

So, disclaimer, we made up this term. It’s just kind of what we arrived at a couple years ago. And it stuck. But it is defined by the words in it. So we have been crafting agreements that operationally support our agile methodologies and focus on the value and the results of a project rather than a fixed scope or all these specific details.

So, simply put, the duration is the amount of time that someone is going to be working with our team, and the price is a result of an hourly rate times the amount of time that we’re working with them. And how this does differ from things you described, like a retainer or a fixed fee, or even value based, which is so elusive and hard to do in the agency world, it’s just a simpler way, and granted there’s complications to it, there’s a lot of education that goes into it.

But we feel like it’s a way in which our clients have a definition of what they’re paying for, and our team doesn’t have to have their hands held by a scope of work that was generated without all the facts.

Even the best fixed scope contract, and there could be good reasons why there is one, if that’s really well defined, but in terms of product development, often times teams spend a ton of time thinking about the different milestones and features that need to go into a certain project and they will change along the way. Once something gets kicked off.

So we were trying to mitigate those risks and trying to avoid the scenario where we’re soaking a lot of overages that often come with a more fixed fee contract.

Ben Aston:

So, the way it works is, as a new business person, what you’re doing is you’re selling in a team of five people. The team is 5k a week. So you say to the client, “Okay, well that’s 25,000 per week.” And how do you come to a budget and so do you then say, “Okay, well we think it’s going to be a four week project, a month long, so we’re gonna estimate it at 100k,” and that’s what you try to get them to sign off on 100k, or do you just say, “Hey, well, we don’t know how long this is going to last for. So it’s 25k a week, please. Just start writing checks.” How does it work?

Alexa Huston:

That’s a good question. So, without getting too in the weeds, we try to start with a smaller scope of work that might be more finite, so four to six weeks of design and testing of a prototype, for example. But then, we’re trying to encourage the idea, like you’re saying, that we want to give our clients a dedicated products team. Meaning, you’re right, those five roles, let’s say it’s a QA person, we have project strategists, and then design and development. And we say, “Okay, based on our experience, at the end of this prototyping engagement, if you want to get to X phase, or X release of your application, it’s going to take about three to six months.” And so we’ll negotiate how long that might be, and the idea is also that we will work up until that time, so that even if we’re hitting goals early, they still have access to the team to work on different aspects of the application or the product until that duration is over and hopefully there’s more opportunity for us along the way to continue to work together.

Right, because we’re working off of the backlog or there’s some sort roadmap, and often times we get to the end of our first duration and price contract and there’s more work to be done and that’s just an easy renewal process from that point forward.

“Oh, we’ve had a great working relationship, and we know there’s more things on the horizon, let’s just extend this and keep working together, because we’ve allowed ourselves to hit these goals.”

Ben Aston:

Okay, so you kind of try and give the client some idea of how long the duration might be. So you say, “Okay, three to six months.” And then how do you manage the expectations around the client about how high fidelity that thing that you produce is going to be. And how do you kind of support the client in selling that up the chain, on their side, when you know, they’re saying to their team internally, “Hey, okay, well I need 300k to create this prototype which is the first phase of this project, we’re not quite sure exactly where we’ll get to, but they’ve told us that usually it takes between three and six months. So we should get something done that’s okay-ish.”

Alexa Huston:

It’s a tough sell, I won’t lie. And there’s a few components to that. So one way to help frame up this idea that it is … They’re not writing a blank check is focusing in on what their issues are with the business, you know, where are they challenged and how will this solve those issues, so getting very specific in terms of what the return on this investment could be, if we can.

Because a lot of times, clients are in a group buying scenario where we might have access to one or two people or hopefully a larger team, but more often than not, they have to sell this up the chain. And so, we try to really focus in on our agile methodologies and pointing back to other case studies that are related.

That does help showcase, okay, this is the fidelity at which you can expect your product to look. And we are really focused on that quality piece. Because we’ve invested a lot in our product development process, and we want them to feel like they are getting an expert product team. And that is the best alternative for the challenge that they’re facing.

And an easy way to help simplify the pricing is, sometimes, I’ll just stand up and start writing on a whiteboard to say, “Okay, you’re going to need these five roles, and it’s this hourly rate,” And I’ll just start writing it out in like a table format, so they can see how we arrive at the price. And then empower that client to say “You will get this value out of it because you are going to be in the driver’s seat making decisions about what the focus is every sprint. And we’ll help consult you along the way and we’ll provide our recommendations.” But it does … We do feel like this puts the client in the driver’s seat to make decisions about the product, to prioritize the backlog and do all the grooming with our team along the way.

Ben Aston:

So do you find that there are sometimes times where the client says, “Hey, well you sold me in this team, but they’re just not working fast enough. They’re not producing enough, we’ve got this great long backlog. The team just isn’t really producing enough.”

That’s kind of what scared me.

Alexa Huston:

Totally, and that’s where you really need to lean in to scrum methodologies or agile practices because ideally you should be releasing something the client can see within the first couple weeks. And so we actually have an opposite effect where there might be some of that anxiety in the beginning, but once we get into development and they’re seeing things really regularly, and some … A sidebar here is that we invite them into our project management software and in the Slack, and so they’re seeing things kind of happen. So it does take some trust to be established pretty early on, but if they’re still a little bit weary, that usually subsides once they start seeing actual releases, even if it’s nothing that they can quote unquote “use yet,” they can still see it and experience it and they can imagine sort of what this going to be, extrapolate it out across the duration that we’ve set.

Ben Aston:

Okay, so you try and cultivate some trust by giving some transparency to the process, to what’s going on. So do you give them like full visibility then, into the internal channels and the tools and they can see everything that’s going on?

Alexa Huston:

They can. We do two different Slack channels for every project. Cause there are some things that you want to keep on … Not close to the chest but things like report, like, if you need to report some big issue and you want to kind of talk about how you want to position it, so we end up doing an internal Slack team or Slack chan, and then we have one that we call whatever the project name is underscore collab and that’s where all the stakeholders are and that’s where we’re updating them on status very regularly.

So there is that very large level of transparency around this that helps.

Ben Aston:

Cool. And what are the things that you mentioned in your article. Which I think, again, is related to trust. Is like, negotiating the scope along the way with your clients. So what I’m curious is to kind of understand more on is how you support the clients through that process. Like how do you … Normally we’re working with a fairly unempowered client who’s reporting up the chain to someone. So do you just try and get it in higher up to … So that you can have an understanding? Or how does that work?

Alexa Huston:

One assumption here is that in order for this to be as effective, you need to have a pretty empowered person on the client side able to make those decisions. So there is some red tape that we deal with in terms of who’s the real decision maker and how can we have access to them, and those are things that we try to unveil in the sales process. But ideally you’ll have a pretty technically minded or design minded product owner on the client side. And then we’re working with them and ensuring that they, not only have access to everything and can make decisions on it, but that they’re looking at the roadmap and reprioritizing things in the backlog outside of the regular sprints right?

So, maybe the week before the sprint kick off, they’re re-ordering the product backlog, and we’re kind of bolstering on to them and giving our recommendations. Because sometimes what can happen is, say we have an idea of where we’re going to be two months into the project because you should have a general goal. It’s not like you have no idea what you’re going to build.

So putting those assumptions and considerations out there are key.

But say if something comes up and maybe an integration just isn’t going to be possible or … We ran into a couple years ago where the product we were going to license went out of business. And there was some issue. So we had to turn on a dime and we had to say, “Okay, what are our options?” And that’s what I mean by negotiating the scope, because that wasn’t a part of the plan and we had to think on our feet and because we weren’t in a fixed scope contract, we didn’t have to worry about a change order, necessarily. We just said, “Okay, well that sucks, how can we make this better?” And we arrived at a decision as a team and then we just moved confidently in that direction. And it was with the client’s input and confidence to move forward that we were able to do that.

Ben Aston:

You touched on the contract there. So what does the statement of work look like?

Alexa Huston:

It’s pretty simple. One thing I will note is that we also had to change our MSA to support this as well. Want to make sure that the general way you’re operating with your clients also matches this type of engagement. So we retooled that a little bit and then, we really keep it simple.

If you look at the article I provide some screenshots from, we use PandaDoc to deliver our contracts, which is a great tool but we keep it very high level and focused in on “What are the business objectives, what is the path to realize those objectives,” so that’s where I do want to make sure people are clear, like, please have a picture of what you’re building. And link off to user stories if you have them or link off to the prototype or some sort of design if you have those assets.

Because that will again help to paint the picture for people, both directly in the project, those stakeholders or outside of those. And then we put a table together that lists out what those resources are, what their hourly or weekly rate is and for how long they’re going to be on the project.

And there’s additional things that we’ll put in there, additional clauses based on whether they need non business hour support or things like that. We can definitely make it fit the client needs. But in general, it’s pretty straightforward. And this was a change for us, because we used to provide contracts that were like eight or nine pages long and no one was reading them, and it just wasn’t really working, and so we tried to simplify and know that our clients are aware of what they’re buying, before they sign.

And if it goes well, the paperwork just kind of gets out of the way. Like, you need to have that signed, and you need to have a shared understanding. But if you’re doing this well, you can just kind of forget about the contract because you’re going to be focusing in each sprint the way you need to be.

Ben Aston:

You talked about, you know, ideally, you’re starting with some user stories, or a picture, or an idea. It sounds like, does this mean then that you’re investing more in the sales process and you’re actually beginning to define things a bit more than you would ordinarily do to try and mitigate that?

Alexa Huston:

We try to steer clear of giving work away for free and so it’s a fine balance of identifying the needs in the sales process without investing too much of our team’s time to do that. So we might start, for example, with a one or two week tech discovery that … In just general strategy and alignment session to kick off the project. And then the team scales up from there.

So maybe for the first two weeks of the project, everyone’s on like a little bit lower dedication. And then up, we just kind of … The prices changes and in terms of the table you’re looking at, at least I am in my head. So the team scales up, and then you’re kind of going full steam ahead on whatever was discovered in the beginning of the engagement.

But you’re right, sometimes people come to the table and say, “Hey, I have all these things and I’m ready to go,” and we’ll say, “Well, that’s awesome. Let’s talk through those. And let’s make sure that we’re in alignment and how comfortable are you if those things change.” Because they probably will. And so there’s a lot of education up front that needs to happen and then along the way as well.

Ben Aston:

So, in your experience, then, where does this kind of fall down. Have you got any stories where you tried this approach but it didn’t work. Or the client was still disappointed or the PM still felt like they’d been screwed over?

Because it sounds great.

Alexa Huston:

Yeah, and it’s not a silver bullet. I will say, it takes a team that has maturity around it. So if someone’s really new to agile, or they aren’t … You know, if the team hasn’t worked together for an extended period of time, that might be why you wouldn’t choose this. Or, if you have a really defined scope and it’s more waterfall nature, that’s fine. You don’t need to retrofit anything.

But where things have sucked in the past is when we tried to, I would almost say on the opposite end, where we tried to move away from how we build products best and how we’re optimized and try to fit it into the client’s process in a way that ends up hurting us. And I don’t want it to sound like we’re too rigid to collaborate because I do think there’s always a marriage and compromise between two groups coming together in a native setting.

But it allows the project manager to be very empowered to suggest things for the benefit of the product versus being afraid to do that if it’s more fixed scope, because there’s always a fear that, “Well, if I recommend this it’s going to totally blow up what we’re working on.” And so this prevents that.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, there can be … As a project manager, you can sometimes. I mean, we want to be strategic and we want to do the right thing, but sometimes, actually delivering on time, on budget, within the defined scope, becomes more important to us. Which I think is a really sad place to be in. If we’re not actually doing the best thing for the client.

Alexa Huston:

Yeah, And I think a really good thing for us when we started to go through this is there’s obviously going to be some legal review between the client team and your team, and that really forces us to think about the language that we’re using and how that translates into a legally binding relationship. And so, just being willing to try this out, maybe on an internal project first, of course you’re not going to bill yourself for that, but think about how you could apply this to something that isn’t client facing at first and just what that model would mean for your team and experiment and ask questions along the way, maybe run some retrospectives too, and say, you know, how can we make this better.

Talking to the developers and designers to see if they’ve been exposed to this type of relationship in the past, because I can tell you, it feels better for them not to be beholden to a tightly knit scope that a lot of times they don’t even know about until they’re on the project, and that just is not ideal.

Talk to the team who are going to be ultimately working it and see how they feel.

Ben Aston:

I’m curious to know, it’s kind of as a first step, so for people who are listening to this, thinking, okay, so maybe we should try implement something like this and get our clients to buy into it, and it’s probably going to have to be a new client, but you suggested trying this out with an internal team, an internal project. Are there certain types of projects where you’ve found that this works better and some that it doesn’t work so well?

Alexa Huston:

Yeah, that’s a good question. We’ve found it works really well with like multi-platform builds. So in the first example of us using this, it was with a new start-up and they wanted an iOS app, an android app and a web app. And there was like a hundred plus user stories and it was really big, it was almost impossible to scope it.

And so it works really well with a product development runway that’s really long. And you will need a lot of people to get the work done. It doesn’t work so hot for things like marketing websites or … We don’t do a lot of content creation, but there are things that are more linear in nature that maybe this isn’t the right solution for. And that’s fine, I’m not saying it should apply to everything.

But if you have a general idea of how much you can get done, or how much you can dedicate someone over a week or month, then you can kind of apply this to your business and see if it can be a good fit.

A lot of this does require a team that’s used to working together to some degree. That can self-organize around business goals and collaborate together, and obviously on the client side, having someone who’s able to make decisions is key.

Ben Aston:

Yeah. I think what I like about kind of what you just said there and I think is really helpful is just this idea of “Hey, you need to form the teams.” And you talked about, you know, it’s great when they’ve worked together before, when they understand how this works, so actually, maybe one of the first steps is forming some teams. And I like the idea of working on internal projects.

So get people to work on an internal project to see how this could work. Like, how much work can people complete in a month. In two months, in three months. What’s the kind of … How does that play out? Bearing in mind, things don’t go to plan always. Often we have to do some rework, but that’s part of the process. But actually trying to work out, okay, create some pods. Work out how much they can deliver. And then you can start selling that into a client. This, hey, this is the kind of thing we think we might be able to produce in three months, or six months. And, yeah, I think that’s really helpful advice.

Alexa Huston:

Totally, and it is different. We got a lot of inspiration from Hanna, which is a really amazing agency. They had a lot of resources online, I think they still do, but back about three years ago, we were putting this together. They just published their projects and they said that they sell people by the week. And that’s sort of how we started to think about these dedicated product teams, which is different from just selling someone in the agency to a client and say, “Yeah, you can have access to this developer for two months.”

That does create some issues in some silos that we didn’t want to bring into our business. So this is for a larger team than just one person.

Ben Aston:

Yeah, it’s not just body shopping.

Alexa Huston:

Yes.

Ben Aston:

Cool. What would you say would your final thing, what would be your best hit for someone struggling to take this idea forward, if you think about some of the challenges that you’ve encountered along the way. What’s the … Are there any nuggets that someone can take away to really take this forward.

Alexa Huston:

I hate to blow that down to one word, but communication is key. Even internally. You want to make sure your team also feels good about this. So get all the roles in touch at the beginning stages. This contract creation. And then obviously communicate that to the client, communicate why this is good for them, communicate why this will bring value to their business. And make sure it supports how you operate your team. Again, we have a very agile culture and it just helped to operationalize some of that. So communicating the benefits and the results over the activity, I think will be beneficial.

But just communicate.

Ben Aston:

Sound advice. I think… It’s one of those things, isn’t it, where so often we can have … As management, you can have someone come up with an idea and just put it into action and say, “Hey, guys, this is the new way of doing things.” But actually, communicating throughout that process, getting people’s buy-in, I think that’s really sound advice.

So, Alexa, thank you so much for joining us today, it’s been great having you with us.

Alexa Huston:

Oh, I appreciate it.

Ben Aston:

And just to say, as I mentioned at the beginning, Alexa’s going to be making an appearance in our upcoming course, starting in September, Mastering Digital Project Management. And if you’re not sure what I’m talking about, but you know you need some PM training, check it out, it’s a seven-week crash course that includes a whole load of interactive elements, we’ve got video lessons, assignments, group discussions. The optional coaching sessions, too. So head to dpmschool.com and get yourself signed up before the course fills up.

And if you’d like to contribute to the conversation about this, about contracting the agile way, comment on the post, head to the resources section of the digitalprojectmanager.com, to join our Slack team where you’ll find all sorts of interesting conversations going on.

But until next time, thanks for listening.

Ben Aston

Ben Aston

I’m Ben Aston, a digital project manager. I've been in the industry for more than 10 years working in the UK at London’s top digital agencies including Dare, Wunderman, Lowe and DDB. I’ve delivered everything from video virals to CMS’, flash games to banner ads and eCRM to eCommerce sites. I’ve been fortunate enough to work across a wide range of great clients; automotive brands including Land Rover, Volkswagen and Honda; Utility brands including BT, British Gas and Exxon, FMCG brands such as Unilever, and consumer electronics brands including Sony.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.