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Cognition

The Intro Tech Call

Yesterday at Happy Cog, Mark, Abby, and I had an intro call with a tech team for a client who will be implementing our templates into their CMS, which, in this case, is ExpressionEngine.

Sometimes, Happy Cog signs up for full builds and, sometimes, we’re only slated to deliver up to the point of templates. This particular client engagement is an example of the latter. Lately, there has been a lot of focus internally around how to best set 3rd-party CMS teams up for success when integrating our template deliverables, and a lot of points to discuss, as a result. In this post, I want to specifically address the importance of the Intro Tech Call.

This call can take place before a sitemap is drafted, and even before a kickoff meeting is scheduled. This is our first point of contact with the client’s tech team. It’s important we set up an open line of communication and discuss expectations from both parties from the get go. We want to build something great together, let’s talk about how….Below are three key points we discuss:

Implement Early and Often

We stress how important it is to get them implementing as soon as possible.

It’s critical that our code is reviewed by the back-end team and, more importantly, implemented into their system as early as possible so they can test for places where our HTML/CSS/JS may not play nice with their setup. The worst thing that could happen is we get all the way through template dev and discover an overarching issue after we’ve burned through all our hours and are stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Intro to Starter Files

We show them our starter files, walk them through how they are set up, and discuss dependencies.

We run join.me and do a screenshare of our starter files in Beanstalk. We talk them through basic setup, which taskrunner and JavaScript libraries we’re looking to employ, how our SCSS partials are setup and compiled. We don’t dive deep into the nitty gritty around grid systems and Sass variables at this point, that’ll be a separate call closer to build. Right now, we’re looking to demystify how our templates will be set up and make sure things like Gulp and Sass are a-ok.

Code Targets or Semi-integrated Templates?

We show them Beanstalk and ask how much/little they want to be involved with build.

We extend the olive branch of read/write access to our hosted code repository and encourage them to actively review and comment on code there. If they make changes, we’ll see them. We also discuss if they will be more satisfied using our templates as static “code targets” to test against, or if they would prefer semi-integrated templates. If they chose the latter, we would set up an install of their CMS, in this case, Expression Engine, and run our templates through it.

So now, I’ll put it to you, back-end devs. Tell me, what else can we do on this very first call of a project to help ensure a smooth integration process for you?

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