As a technology provider, we have had our share of trials and triumphs in establishing effective partnerships with our clients. There are many factors that contribute to effective partnerships, but communication is perhaps the most important aspect of establishing a successful collaboration. Most frustrations within the vendor-client relationship can be traced back to the lack of clear communication, unrealistic expectations (from both parties), and assumptions. Drawing from our own experience, we’ve developed the following tips to achieve harmony in the vendor-client relationship.
1. Draw it out- When words fail, draw a picture. We’ve all heard that saying, “a picture speaks a thousand words”…while the reality of the statement is up for debate, it is hard to deny the fact that images are a powerful communication tool. Don’t be afraid to snap a screenshot or channel you inner artist and sketch it out the old fashioned way.
2. Ask All the Questions- As a technology vendor, we know our products inside and out. While we always strive to educate our clients about the behaviors of our products there are times that we make assumptions that cause gaps in information for the client. If you are not sure what standard behavior looks like, or how a product works, just ask. A reputable vendor will be more than happy to elaborate when needed.
3. Understand What Your Budget Allows- The “scope” of the project is based on client budget. The scope defines what is and is not included in the budget of the project. We often find that miscommunications result when the scope of the project is not fully understood by all parties involved. The best way to know what to expect is open communication. Take full advantage of weekly implementation meetings
4. We’re Developers, Not Magicians- Technology has evolved leaps and bounds within the last decade. One consequence of this swift evolution is the (sometimes) unrealistic expectations that follow. We are creative beings and sometimes we imagine a certain result when we click a button or link but if that result has not been programmed…it is not going to happen. The behavior of each click is determined in the very first stages of implementation. Be sure to discuss your expectations with the vendor when you are reviewing the development of the site.
5. Don’t Assume- Assumptions are one of the most costly mistakes you can make because they nickel and dime your budget until it is sucked dry. Just avoid assumptions altogether. Ask for clarifications any time you need to.
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/31013861@N00/25784770661