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Large projects are complex and can be difficult to manage. Clients and team members often resist collaboration. You cannot manage everything. To navigate every challenge, you must rely on the expertise of your team.
This requires a team-focused, agile mindset that places emphasis on impromptu coaching as well as relationship building between client and team members. Your client relationship will be rewarding if it is well managed. Your team will be praised and your project will have the best results.
As a PM, how can you manage a client-facing development team.
I’ll show how and why we did it.
Type of client company: Staffing
Type of project: App development
Cost range: 1 – 1.5 million
Timeline: 2.5 Years
Maximum team size: 4-8 people at a given time
Develop, launch, support and maintain a multi-platform staffing app
Execute a significant development effort that is not tied to deliverables.
Why we chose to collaborate with developers-led teams
My team was much smaller just a few years back than it is now. We wanted to grow, so we needed to find bigger, more complex projects.
We knew this would present new challenges. The most important was changing the way developers work with clients. Given their expertise, we knew that it was important to connect our developers with our clients. We also wanted to be true to our clients and produce quality work.
A startup in the staffing sector had an opportunity.
It would allow us to test this new approach to client-driven developer collaboration, which was unforeseeable to us at that time.
We began with a 3-day, on-site consulting session to help the staffing startup refine its product vision and market.
They enjoyed working with us and asked for a contract to develop the first release of their platform. It included a web site, marketing site, iOS and Android apps.
Our client was eager to move quickly and was ready for construction.
Great, right? It’s not so great.
Our client was ready, but we weren’t.
Our team was only able to experience the product for three days.
We knew that we could not confidently deliver a contract that covered every feature and edge case with such a large scope. It required months of multi-platform development.
This would not only be unfair to our client, but also to our team.
Our client was developing a new product. This would require a lot of trust and learning from our developers. We also need to test and gather feedback from users to ensure success.
We created an agile contract.
We couldn’t go through the traditional discovery route due to time constraints. Our team had to find a solution that would empower our developers to create the best solutions. Due to the scale of the project, we couldn’t afford addendums and scope negotiations.
After much internal debate, our version of an agile contract or what we now refer to as “Duration and Price” was created.
The 3-day consultation session produced a list of user stories that our product strategist used to inform the contract. It also created a framework for our developers to work with our client partner.
The contract’s focus was on a product team that we believed could meet the challenge.
Our team consisted of a cross-functional web and backend developer as well as a mobile developer. A product designer, product strategist, as well as myself, were part of our team. Each member of the team was assigned to a different capacity that made sense for this project, usually at half-time or full-time.