Skip to main content

  • August 17, 2015

A More Perfect Union

At Happy Cog, we frequently check in with each other about our respective projects and how things are going. In both post-mortems meetings and weekly check-ins we evaluate not only on the time, budget, and resourcing health of a project, but on how the client is doing – on the experience of working with each client. Decorative Illustration

Even if all the proverbial stars on a project are aligned and our relationship with the client team or team lead is compromised, the project will suffer despite an otherwise healthy set of factors. So what do we look for in a partner and what should a partner be looking for in us?

A strong team, but more importantly a team lead:

Is empowered.

  • The client is invested in seeing the project go well
  • Successfully advocates for change – has a deep understanding of the brand in its current state and a vision for what it COULD BE
  • Is able to convince others of this same vision – acts as a flag-bearer for change

Understands scope.

  • In the planning process, the client team is able to articulate and set realistic expectations around the type of content and assets and speed at which they are able to produce these assets during the course of the project and beyond
    plans for how to manage this among competing projects, or seasonal spikes in their business cycle
  • The team can work with us to spell out clear collective technology environment and capabilities
  • They understand the pace at which your team is capable of operating

Can manage key stakeholder schedules and competing interests within an agreed timeline to ensure we’re able to maintain our progress once the project gets moving.

  • They’re owed favors, they have a good reputation within the organization, they’re meeting invites are accepted, their emails answered.
  • They’re able to translate intent from people within the organization – what is truth vs. what is packaging?

We give client teams massive props. They often need to navigate layer upon layer of stakeholders. A year from now, when we have wrapped the project, the client continues working with their team, and supporting their ever-evolving, newly launched website. This requires a more complex form of negotiating, with longer lasting repercussions.

We’re interested in hearing from you (both agencies and client-side teams). What are the strongest signs for you that you have a strong project partner? What are key indicators of team health and efficiency? Are there any indicators you thought were requirements but turn out to not be as important?

Additional resources:

  • Owner of Happy Cog, Greg Hoy’s A List Apart article “Getting to No” on evaluating clients in the sales process.
  • Co-founder and design director of Mule Design Studio and accomplished author, Mike Monteiro’s A Book Apart book, “You’re My Favorite Client” aims to demystify the design process and guide the client through being an effective partner.

Back to Top