How Important is a Written Process to the Success of your Business?
What is the point of having a process?
Look to any professional services provider and if they are any good at all they follow a process. And if they really know what they are doing it will be written down.
At High Concept Media, when we work with a client who offers services we will recommend that they summarize their process as part of their marketing message.
Why is that important?
Having a process written down serves several purposes for your potential customers:
- It shows that you are experienced and you have refined your successful interaction with your clients into a series of repeatable steps
- It includes both the crucial and nuanced steps required to do the best job for your client and because they are recorded, items will rarely be overlooked and it will reduce wasted time
- It creates consistency between members of your organization and projects between clients
A company should have a process that relates to streamlining the experience for their clients, gathering necessary information, setting expectations, making schedules and determining goals. Here is a basic overview of the steps to our process:
- DISCOVERY: In the case of High Concept Media, we start with a project discussion meeting (preferably in-person, but it has been equally as effective online or over the phone). Our role is to develop marketing strategies and custom content, so we are most effective when we don’t “sell websites”, but rather uncover the core business problem. This is our opportunity to get to know each other a little bit. Likely we can offer a solution based on our experience and a combination of our services. There are a number of items we need to learn to develop an effective solution, some questions include:
- What is the business problem(s) they are trying to solve? What do they think the solution looks like (this helps align expectations to reality)?
- Why is it important to solve this problem now? What are the consequences of nothing changing?
- What does success look like?
- What are the short and long term goals of the business? How can this problem impact those goals (get as specific as possible)?
- What is the single most difficult thing in the business right now?
- Who are the primary and secondary markets of the business? What impact will a successful project have with that marketplace?
- Who are the decision makers and stakeholders impacted by this project? How much access can we have to them while developing a solution?
- Are there other efforts, strategies, or assets we need to consider or incorporate as part of our solution?
- Is there a timeline? Why?
- Why did you reach out to High Concept Media specifically?
- PROPOSAL: The next step in the process is to develop and present a proposal (that may include options) to solve the problem and align to short term and long term corporate goals. This document will be built around the information gathered during the discovery process. The proposal will typically include the following items:
- A recommended service or combination of services designed to solve the specific problem and an explanation as to why we believe it will solve the problem
- A timeline to execute the solution
- A list of required assets and/or information
- A list of specific timelines for benchmarks, reviews and deliveries
- A list of specific deliverables including usage rights
- Proposed pricing or cost estimates
- Contingencies for project getting off schedule, excessive revisions or changes in scope
- Payment and sign off schedules
- First Sign-off with start date
- PAYMENT: First payment will be required at sign-off and before work commences, final payment is required after final project review but prior to delivery of final project file delivery or upload. Additional payments may be scheduled depending on the total value of work.
- SOLUTION DEVELOPMENT: Though a solution has been presented as part of the proposal, the details proposed are initially generic. Research and strategy development are typically the first steps. Once we have developed a more comprehensive plan we will begin to incorporate existing assets and develop new elements for each aspect of the media to be designed. This could include a combination of copywriting, graphic design, web design, print work, custom illustration, 3D rendering or animation, newsletter designs, eCommerce, blogging or social media.
- REVIEW: When a client hires High Concept Media they are hiring a professional services company. We have considerable experience and do not request or require guidance to develop a solution for a client’s problem. Our initial consultation provides us with an overview of the problem, pertinent industry trends, and relevant market information helps us establish a solution that resolves the problem while aligning to corporate goals. Scheduled project reviews gives our client opportunities to ask questions and confirm our approach along the way while gaining further clarification if necessary and view our progress.
- SOLUTION PRESENTATION: This part of the process is conducted online or in-person with the project stakeholders. This is the time that the final solution is presented, including a summary of the project goals, a description of the design process, any applicable research that influenced the direction and the WHY behind the decision-making process and the value of the final design. At High Concept Media, we believe a solution that is designed by a professional is not a piece of artwork. The solution is developed through an iterative process and the direction determined by the goals of the client. The success of the work is not determined by subjective tastes but rather its form follows function – the solution is designed for the end client, solves specific problems and aligns to the goals of the organization.
- FINAL PAYMENT AND PROJECT DELIVERY: It is at this time that we will invoice the client for their final payment. Upon receiving that payment, the final files are delivered and/or uploaded and the pre-arranged usage-rights are granted to the client.
This is not an exhaustive summary of our standard process at High Concept Media, but certainly comprehensive enough to give you an idea of what our standard process includes. Sometimes, we might include some external vendor management, client training, integration services and even software and hardware recommendations if there is a client component (newsletter or blog creation, as an example).
The purpose of sharing this is for us to internally review what our process looks like today and to have something more comprehensive to share with clients that might be struggling to come up with the details of their own process.
I hope this is helpful in understanding the importance of having your own process clearly defined and written down.