A fine tuned workflow is an essential blueprint to map out team members’ daily tasks and remove redundancies in digital operations. It moves your agency’s operational practices from simple to complex tasks. As such, the more you can effectively streamline your workflow as a project manager, designer, or developer, the more you can increase productivity for yourself and your digital agency. Here are 3 intense workflow time management tips to help you manage app development operations.
1. Map Out & Uncover Gaps.
How many times have you talked about “team collaboration”? Best guess is probably a ton. You worship the term and are often times praising it at the end of the project for its’ success. But I challenge you, how many actual times have you seen it practiced in your agency DURING a project? More often than not, you have collaboration issues and accepting this is hard. What can you do to make it better?
When you want to simplify app development, it is always helpful to sketch a flowchart illustrating all the key activities and tasks it requires. Mapping out all the processes helps you account for all steps, uncover gaps, highlight dependencies, identify and eliminate redundancies, and flag tasks in which improvements are needed. Often, app development workflow will cross-departmental boundaries necessitating collaboration with several departmental heads. So how do you enhance collaboration in such cases?
• Add “swim lanes” to your flowchart to show which activities in the process are being handled by different personnel, departments, or even suppliers marked as integral to the entire workflow. I don’t want to confuse you. This is different than using Kanban or Trello boards for your project workflow. This is BEFORE you start using Kanban, and is more imperative to your operations. It allows you to know exactly who to contact about a particular task. It also allows the different personnel involved to know exactly what is required of them, and how their tasks fits in the overall work process. Hence, better collaboration.
• Consider E-signing or Instant Invoicing. Work processes normally come to a halt when key documents need to be signed off. As such, it makes great sense to handle them in the fastest and most efficient way possible. E-signatures allow team leads to sign documents from wherever they are. Have an invoice that you need to send? Don’t make signing checks a part of your daily routine. Use our platform or free apps for simple invoices like Invoice Generator or Invoice Machine to send virtual payments. Teleconferencing is also a better option for holding status meetings over physical meetings. It makes collaboration easy and saves travel costs and time. We suggest you purchase the best videoconferencing solutions in the market such as GoToMeeting, Cisco Webex Mobile, Join.me, or UberConference.
• Collaborate in the Cloud. Handling work process documents in the cloud gives team leads and workers the opportunity to collaborate better with workmates and clients. It also gets rid of most of the waiting associated with old document workflows.
Well, the above tips will help you manage collaboration, but how do you manage clients in your digital project?
2. Invest in Deliverables With Your Client
In digital agencies, interacting with clients is the line between make or break your business. In simple terms, do well with one client, and he will come for repeated purchases and send more clients your way. Do poorly, and forget it. So, how do you effectively handle clients in app development?
• First, invest time to learn and understand your client. Each client is unique, and so are his or her needs. As such, investing time to learn how they tick is not an optional activity. Fly to their city, take them out for coffee, and literally do whatever you have to, to get ahead of them. Get them in a room, pay attention, and have a full-length conversation with them. If your agency project managers aren’t doing this, then you’re missing out on nurturing your relationship and upselling them to support plans 3 months down the road.
It is best to commence with a casual chat, as this will give you an understanding of what the brand is about – it voice, strategy, and all other details the client may have in the subconscious. Do not pop immediate questions like, “Can you tell me about your brand?” If you do it this way, you will probably only get the technical details.
• Agree on deliverables and delivery time. One of the most challenging tasks in digital agencies workflow management is timing communications with clients. As such, it is wise to be as specific as you can on what your firm will do on its own, what you will do in collaboration, and how you will get it done. The first step in this is an agreement on specific deliverables, with clear and realistic timelines and due dates. From there, you will be able to set the main objective, break it down to achievable targets while allowing room for adjustment.
You then need to sit with the client and agree on operating procedures in a clear contract. Agree on things like: How fast the clients can expect you to respond to emails? What extras or remedy can you offer if they are not happy with the initial work? How often you will be communicating and more. Clients need couching not only on the technical details of the app, but also on working with you. So, make it clear, have it in writing, and stick to what you say.
• Only Say Yes When You Can Deliver. Never tell a client yes when you feel something is unmanageable. You need to be transparent and say no when something is outside your remit. Otherwise, you will raise their expectations and at the end of it all disappoint them. After this, they will never see the good in your work; even if it’s exquisite.
However, this does not mean you should completely cut off workaround in workflow management. If anything, doings so is the greatest sin digital agencies can ever do. Responding to an urgent request by a client improves his trust in you, but it also comes with its own inefficiencies through miscommunication, redundancies, reworks and clean-up after delivery. The secret is to weigh the cost vs the benefit and whenever you cannot deliver, wisely manage the client’s expectations. You can even offer to help them find someone who can do it for them.
3. Make the Most out of App Prototypes. Physical products from as simple as toothbrushes to as complex as performance cars benefit a lot from prototype development. Prototype apps materially lower the risk on a project and give better result and it is no different in software development.
As interface designers, you are often required to demonstrate the look and feel of the interface you design. Most often, you commence with a series of flat images, but even if these are pixel excellent and show even the most amazing details, they lack the context of user experience. Without which, it becomes very hard for your clients to understand the flow of the app in the way you have planned it. The best way to introduce context is by adding interactivity. This allows the client to play around with the app to get a grasp a feeling of how the app will work and to test the experience. Prototyping is a huge workflow and time management tip in digital agencies. Here are the benefits you will reap from using Apps prototype;
• You will be able to identify important design factors right from the initial stages of the project
• Because the mock-ups are visual, clients will easily understand what you are talking about, agreements will be reached sooner, and expensive misunderstanding will be avoided.
• With a defined user specification to follow your developers and interface designers will spend less time thinking about layout. They can focus on getting it done without fears of having to overhaul everything and change to something else.
If you are a designer or creative, invisionapp.com is one of our recommended platform. It allows you to transform you designs quickly into a beautiful, fully interactive prototypes loaded with gestures, animations and transitions for the web, android and iOS. Just one of the many recommendations.
How does your digital agency manage their workflow? We’d love to hear any tips or tricks that you use to make your agency more efficient. Enter in your email below to stay up to date on the Dashable blog.
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