Back when we were just starting to really see how one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to labelling projects as simply, say, “branding” or “UI,” we found ourselves asking more and more questions up front in the sales process. You do something often enough, you find you keep repeating things over and over again. You keep repeating things over and over again, you find yourself an opportunity to apply some process (yay!).
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”- Winston Churchill
We had found that our project management, strategic, creative, and technical teams each had a certain set of basic questions that, if answered by a potential client, would give us a pretty solid grasp of the general scope of the project presented to us. Those answers also allowed us to move more confidently toward drafting a proposal that everyone felt good about. So we wrote those sets of questions down, gave that puppy a name, and started sending it out to potential clients who’d already moved past our initial vetting stages. Around here, we call it the PPQ.
“If you don't know where you are going. How can you expect to get there?”- Basil S. Walsh
And what happened?
- We got SO MUCH awesome information that we may never have gotten ahead of time.
- We got a clearer picture of the whole of the project.
- We were a few huge steps closer to initiating production work.
- We got a glimpse into the character of each individual completing the questionnaire.
- We got perspective into business goals and long-term plans.
- We saw our project scoping accuracy increase tremendously.
- We saved time for both ourselves and the client.
- We were left with a resource that we still refer back to once a project is in production.
“No matter how good the team or how efficient the methodology, if we’re not solving the right problem, the project fails.”- Woody Williams
Did the clients balk at receiving a fairly dense questionnaire? Not that I’m aware of. In fact, I recall feedback from many clients who found the questionnaire helpful themselves, because it gave them an idea of what that particular project with us might involve. It also often allowed them to share their thoughts freely and have discussions within their own teams that brought them clarity.
By my estimation, we’ve been using the PPQ in its various incarnations for more than three years. And, like I said above, the PPQ eventually led to the notion of a paid Discovery, a type of engagement that has proven invaluable in scoping both short- and long-term projects of any complexity. I think the moral of this story is two-fold: stressing the importance of working toward a clear picture of a goal, and recognizing the savings/earnings to be gained by identifying and appropriately applying process.
What do you think? Anybody using anything like our PPQ?