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10 Questions to Ask in the Initial Meeting with a Design & Development Agency

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Hiring a vendor to build a digital product, trusting them with tens of thousands of dollars, and risking your reputation is a hard decision to make for any business owner.

Being an award-winning full-service digital agency, we get in touch with brand leaders and startups from various industries all the time. To engage any further down the collaboration lane with them, we first need to understand and evaluate a project, its scope, and the technical requirements to determine whether we are a fit from a technical and strategic standpoint.

Asking these 10 questions can make or break a potential client-vendor relationship

Asking the right questions before the start of the co-operation can make or break a potential client-vendor relationship. Here's a set of frequently asked questions in the initial meeting with potential clients which can help set a software project up for success from the initial meeting.

1. "Are you focused on a specific industry, or do you take on projects from different backgrounds?"

When prospects see we've worked with big names and brands across industries, they frequently inquire about "the size" of our clients and the industries we’re most experienced in.

Although we're seasoned in the hospitality, fintech, and telecom industry, we are always looking for interesting, innovative, challenging, and game-changing projects, whatever industry they might belong to.

2. "What pricing models do you offer?"

We understand pricing is an important decision-making factor, which is why we emphasize that it's fully dependent on choosing a suitable co-operation model.

These are the three common co-operation models when estimating the price of a software development project:

  • Fixed price model - Suited for smaller-scope projects, like building a landing page, in which the scope isn't likely to change mid-project.

  • Time and materials model - Used for long-term projects with dynamic requirements in which the full scope is yet unknown and a certain level of flexibility and possibility to adjust requirements, shift directions, replace features is needed. Within this model, clients are billed for the amount of hours spent on a specific project, plus the cost of materials.

  • Dedicated team model - Suitable for projects with uncertain requirements and potential changes in the scope. The client is charged monthly based on team size that includes fixed-service costs. Usually, this type of cooperation consists of a team of (minimum) six to seven people and is facilitating long-term collaboration between a vendor and a client. Find out more about the dedicated team model.

Once we have agreed on a fitting co-operation model, we can start talking about money. Our prices are not predefined because we build digital products for our clients from scratch. To put it another way, we build custom-made software, and that includes different services in different ratios, making it hard to "put a fixed price" on a specific service.

Also, the scope of the project and the cooperation duration affect the budget and rates. If we expect long-term collaboration, there is a high chance we will agree on better terms. That's why we need to understand the project's scope completely to provide an accurate timeline and budget estimate.

3. "What other services do you offer?"

Often, a software project requires additional services on top of the "core" one – development. We also offer design and branding services, code maintenance, and will gladly assist with growth of your user base.

As a one-stop-shop or a full-stack agency, we have all the required skills and the technical expertise to bring the client's idea to life and execute the project successfully.

"Full" in full-stack refers to the collection of technologies needed to complete a project, whereas "stack" refers to a collection of accompanying services, like design, software testing, DevOps, analytics and so on.

4. "Do you work in an agile way?"

We employ an agile working methodology: Scrum framework, to be more precise.

In Scrum, we work mostly in two-week sprints. Each sprint starts with estimating the potential tasks and agreeing on the scope of the sprint. At the end of each sprint, the team presents a demo of the results and comments on problems.

A dedicated Product Owner and a Scrum Master will make sure everyone needed is involved in all important decisions and is informed about the project's progress.

5. "What’s the difference between a Product Owner and a Project Manager?"

Sometimes, the clients are not sure whether they need a Project Manager or a Product Owner.

As mentioned above, the Project Manager acts as the main point of contact and oversees and coordinates the project with clients. A Project Manager is perfect for projects that already have a dedicated product team.

On the other hand, a Product Owner is ideal if your company needs guidance in adapting business processes for digital product creation.

Check out this resource if you want to learn more about the difference between Product Owners and Project Managers.

6. "Do you include your clients in day-to-day communication?"

Both the client's and our teams are on the same page and stay up-to-date by using our agency management tool Productive. In Productive, our clients have an overview of all important metrics, like hours worked, hours billed, or costs. This provides all parties the ability to track the success and transparency of a project in real-time.

7. "How do you guarantee code quality?"

We’re proud of maintaining multiple touch points of quality control for our products. In addition to having two sets of eyes review and approve every line of code through pull requests, our QA team tracks quality control metrics and conducts extensive usability reviews and tests on more than 100+ devices available in our device lab to ensure the highest quality standards.

Infinum-testing-devices

8. "Does the client oversee the project from beginning to end?"

We preach and practise open and transparent communication with our clients through a variety of channels.

One of them is the already-mentioned Productive which provides an overview of tasks, whereas we use dedicated Slack channels for day-to-day communication and collaboration with all client stakeholders. Depending on the clients' preference, we can switch to Microsoft Teams or even WhatsApp groups if needed.

9. "What if my product is finished and ready for deployment but I don’t have a team of developers to maintain it?"

During the initial chat, it's important to set expectations on the degree of involvement after the production has finished, because there's still plenty we can do for you. Some clients want to keep us on deck once the production and testing are concluded, and we always look forward to such long-term engagements.

10. "Once my product is ready, is there a way to secure its growth and its user base?"

Finally, developing and releasing a digital product is just the first step towards success. It’s just as important to connect your product with the right market and audience, not only by focusing on acquisition but by constantly working on app improvements.

Our Growth & Analytics team has already helped many clients attract more users and keep them engaged by relying on relevant data. Using different tool sets, from Firebase, Amplitude, Google Data Studio and many more, they devour delightful data, draw conclusions from it, and then suggest the game plan for guaranteed success.

A springboard for a successful co-operation

By the time the initial conversation is done, both the client and the vendor will have hopefully gained a better understanding of each other's expectations and potential.

Whether it ends in a realization that the client and the vendor aren't a perfect combination or as a springboard for a successful future co-operation, it's better to discover it sooner than later.

We also offer fabulous illustration design, as evident from the cover visual by Nikolina Fuzul.