More than a vendor: Three reasons to choose an agile consulting team
Finding the right partner to build a new website, app, or other type of software is a project in itself. You’re looking for technical expertise, of course — but like any good relationship, you also want to be sure you understand each other, feel heard, and are working toward a shared goal. At Pixo, we take great care to make sure a potential project is a fit; it means fulfilling work for us, and the best possible outcome for our clients and the people they serve.
So what makes a good fit? Depends on what you need. If you have a big idea or problem to solve, and want to build a tool that evolves with you as needs change, an agile consultancy would likely be a great partner for you. At Pixo, our collaborative team will work with you not just on design and development — but in understanding your challenges, getting to know the needs of people using your website or app, and encouraging you to pursue solutions for long-term success.
Here’s how we do it.
We’re consultants — which means we’ll work closely with you to develop a strategy.
What are you trying to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? How will you know your technology succeeds, both now and down the road? These are the kinds of questions we ask as consultants. We dig in with you from the beginning to understand your challenges and user needs, align these needs to project goals, and conduct research with real people to confirm or challenge our assumptions. We don’t jump right into building a website or app without first knowing the problem we’re solving, the people we’re building for, or the impact a tool will have on your organization. It’s all to make sure we’re creating the right product for the right people, and meeting the right goals within the right budget.
To do this, we operate in cross-functional teams, each with a project manager, engineers, user interface and user experience designers, and content strategists. With you and your team, we’ll work together through:
- Guided exercises where we uncover important details, discover opportunities, and reveal user needs.
- Collaborative work sessions where we define requirements, outline clear goals, and make content and design decisions together.
With a clear strategy at every step, we can move ahead confidently and adapt if needs change.
We’re agile — which means we’re lean in our processes and quick to deliver (and then deliver again).
At Pixo, we approach work with an agile methodology and use elements of scrum to do so. As a client, you don’t have to know the ins and outs of these methods, but you will see the benefits. Essentially, agile means tackling focused chunks of work one at a time to design and build quickly and iteratively. While doing so, we adapt to address real pain points and challenges on projects.
We work in two-week cycles (or sprints, as they are commonly known). Each sprint typically consists of:
- Research: What are we doing (designing, building, testing)?
- Prioritization: What value does this provide to the client?
- Collaboration: How do we need to work as a team to achieve this?
- Results: What feedback can we get to inform our next cycle?
The clients we work with regularly get to experience this rhythm, and new clients may get a crash course in this approach starting with our project intro call. Our project managers excel at identifying when to use different elements of scrum and agile methodologies to create lean processes that meet the needs of the team, client, and project.
On a practical level, clients should expect:
- Regular demos where we share our progress and gather feedback to suit your evolving needs.
- Test sessions with working software to improve shared understanding of functionality and user needs.
- Regular status updates in Basecamp to share and document information on the timeline, budget, and other aspects of the project.
- And of course, phone calls from your friendly project manager when a real-time conversation is needed.
In practice, does it always look exactly like this? Of course not.
We uncover roadblocks that slow things down, priorities change, people go on vacation, things happen. A lot changes in the day-to-day, but with an agile approach at the forefront, we can be flexible and put people first. We adapt when schedules shift, we accommodate when new information is learned and priorities change, and we can work toward a successful project outcome regardless of the dependencies.
We have an MVP mindset — which means we prioritize with you to make the most of your resources.
At Pixo, we use another agile tool to help mitigate risks and help everyone get on the same page about a project: the MVP mindset.
MVP (or Minimum Viable Product) means the must-have features for a website or app to be usable and deliverable. This can look very different for different clients and projects — what your minimum requirements are for a website or tool might not look anything like someone else’s. And that’s OK! As long as we have a shared understanding of what you absolutely need out of a tool, what’s nice to have, and what might be cool three years from now, we can use an MVP mindset to deliver a successful product sooner rather than later.
At the start of many projects, we work with clients to establish something like the following chart:
We focus our efforts on the upper right corner, or the features that have the highest impact and are most crucial now. We work in tight iterations — our sprint cycle — and stay in close communication with you to ensure we are always working on what is valuable.
This mindset does a lot to prioritize budget and timeline with high-value items, but at the end of the day, risks to the timeline and budget still happen — and that’s when our project communication is critical. I can go on and on about risk mitigation (expect another post on that), but at the end of the day, communication and flexibility is key, which is exactly what our strategies allow.
Need a partner for your next project?
Big problems don’t always require big solutions — more often they need simple ones to start. As consultants, we aim to uncover those solutions and have the strategies to do just that. If you have a project and need a partner, get in touch. And no pressure if we aren’t the right fit — we’ll be the first to recommend another team if we think they could better serve the project.