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Breakpoint currently unavailable. I'm working hard to this happen, I PROMISE.

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A post by
Katerina Christou
Q+A SERIES
December 4, 2023

Improving your digital business: How we help clients initiate change

Improving your digital business: How we help clients initiate change

A post by
Katerina Christou
December 4, 2023
XX
min read

Navigating a digital transformation is hard, especially when the change you need isn’t always apparent. As digital specialists, we have lots of experience finding opportunities for clients to improve their service, and guiding them through the first steps.

Seeking outside help can be hard

When faced with a product challenge, our clients have often told us that seeking outside help wasn't an easy step to make. For some it even felt like failure, "surely we can solve our own problems!" The truth is, navigating change is hard, and it often requires a unique skill set that companies don't always possess in-house. Agencies, adept at providing fresh perspectives and unencumbered by day-to-day operations, bring varied knowledge and experience; they have the ability to influence internal decisions and offer additional skills and capacity too.

The world of consultants and agencies though, can seem quite impenetrable. “Who is the best person to talk to?” “I'm not even sure how to explain our problem!?” At Ostmodern we like to have an initial chat with all potential clients, to understand better where they are in their process and where the sticking points might be. Clients also get an opportunity to see what we do, and understand the help available. Beyond the initial chat, we also offer a more in-depth Opportunity Workshop, to draw out more detailed insights into client challenges and assess where they should begin.

'Afterall, the first step toward a digital transformation is to properly understand the issues and challenges at play. Second is to formulate an action plan with a brief, or several briefs, which define a set of expected outcomes.'

Ostmodern are well experienced at setting up projects for success. We use tried and trusted methodologies to understand the unique situation of every client, and tailor our advice, briefs and action plans specifically for them. This article offers an insight into the Opportunity Workshops we offer, to give new clients a feel for what to expect. 

Opportunity Workshops

Opportunity Workshops are collaborative working  sessions we run with clients to talk about their challenges candidly. They capture the current state of a service by blending client perspective with objective analysis. These insights form the foundation of any recommendations or strategy we create later. 

During the session we aim to unearth problems and successes, and identify any blind spots across the business that may be having a negative impact. Some exercises are also focussed specifically on looking forward, to capture goals and objectives for the future, so we can plot a trajectory for success. 

We frame the discussion in a few ways. We look at the wider digital ecosystem and  industry that the service lives within; including comparators and other connected services within the clients' wider business. We review team structures, technical infrastructures, user needs, content workflows and any existing data and milestones; all of which help to paint a picture of how things currently operate. This broad view allows us to provide more proactive recommendations that address the causes of problems, rather than just reacting to the symptoms.

A range of consultants from different disciplines will support in these sessions, spanning user experience and user interface design, research, technology and business strategy. Client challenges can often be multi-faceted, or stem from less-obvious issues, so it helps to have a range of experts figuring it all out.

'Talking about challenges with the right people, before jumping head first into a new project or RFP process, goes a long way to safeguard any investment.'

What is the format?

Sessions are around 1-2 hours long. We use a whiteboard with visual prompts based on a proven framework to facilitate the conversation, which everyone can see and contribute to. We advise that clients attend with around three representatives from their team - Sessions can be hosted remotely, in-person at client offices or our own, or a combination of both.

Clients can anticipate a comprehensive output; a summary of challenges and successes, a gap analysis and later, a suggested brief (or several briefs) for the next phase with clear steps. 

We feel our  Opportunity Workshops here at Ostmodern set clients up for success  because we advocate for better business investments, better project briefs and tackling vendor transparency, whether they continue with Ostmodern or not.

Importance of a good brief

A good project brief is pivotal for change, which is why they play an important part in our client engagements. Without a clear summary of what’s expected, teams cannot act on them effectively, and projects are unlikely to deliver impact.

Briefs summarise the challenges that need to be resolved, business expectations for success and clear priorities. The brief, and the organisational structure surrounding it, are what enable teams to prosper; writing a good brief is vitally important - but it isn’t easy.

'As an agency, we have seen many, many briefs in our time and we know what a good one looks like.'

Some things we know for certain; it’s impossible to dictate at the outset of a project exactly what the precise output should be, because we simply don’t know at this point. A process for working this out is what’s required, which is why the project is there in the first place, to prescribe what’s needed.

On the other hand, milestones are important to include because they enable teams to prioritise work in line with key targets. Tangible measures of success such as KPIs or OKRs also help project teams to navigate decisions and later, assess the value of their work to the business. 

 A major faux pas of any project brief is to prescribe what features are needed; we often see this when clients are either wanting to benchmark market standards, or are replatforming and want to baseline capabilities. Whilst the rationale makes sense, there are better ways to capture these requirements without prescribing exactly what the service should do. 

Afterall, the team may discover efficiencies during the project that could save businesses money, so it’s best not to hinder that potential.

Get in touch

Ultimately, our objective with clients early on is to size up their challenges well and think strategically about how to resolve them. A detailed understanding of the client’s challenges empowers us to scope out the work well, and provides a reliable reference point for decision making; whether the next step involves qualifying RFP applicants, restructuring their teams, doing some proposition testing, or seeking investment. 

We come across lots of clients at a transitional stage in their digital service, and believe that having a healthy chat with a group of experts can really help to build confidence in their direction of travel.  

If you have a product in the market or a new service idea, and want to chat about where to go next, and understand our approach in more detail, get in touch at hello@ostmodern.co.uk.

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