Take off

Us on the initial client call

This photo captures how we feel from the moment we start our initial phone call with potential clients. I’ve been told many times that when I take up a task, I do so with a level of focus and intensity that is rare. I just figured that’s how everybody is, but clearly not, based on feedback.

Clients always say the same thing: “We don’t want to pay for a lot of ramp up time. We want you guys to come in and hit the ground running.” And that’s why I think this picture is so great, because it shows that once the call starts we’re off the blocks and moving fast. Therefore, we are doing exactly what every client wants, but as the call progresses longer and longer, more often than not, we realize we’re all alone and that the track is disappearing from in front of us.

Thinking You’re Prepared vs. Really Being Prepared

All clients start the call with us on the starting block and take off with the same energy burst during our first few questions: “Tell us about yourselves.”, “What is the app idea?” and “Where do you need help?”. The answers come back quick and with energy that gets everyone’s heart pumping! This is the best part of the race and the call. Everyone likes to share their general ideas and passions. Both us and the client feel like we can conquer the world and whip this out in no time.

Then, more often than not, things start to get a little more difficult. Our questions get deeper as we plunge ahead to get the info we need to do our work with questions like: “What mobile platform have you decided on?”, “Do you need a backend?” and “What about design work?” Some clients will keep up with us: “iOS only! Yes, we’ll need a backend. No, we have our own designs.” while others will start to misstep, “Well, we’re thinking iOS for starters but maybe Droid as well. We might need a backend, but we’re not sure. We have wireframes, so that’s good enough for you, right?”

We’re still trying to hit the ground running though, so we’ll pause and give some advice at this point but we’re not stopping the discussion. We need to understand the full scope of the work we’re talking about here, so we press onward with even tougher questions: “If we’re not building the backend, are the services ready for us to hit? Have you thought through the data model? What’s your SCM plan for the code? How we gonna get this to test devices? Do you have those devices? If we’re building the backend, where are we going to build it for you? How robust does it need to be? What are the user number projections?”

It’s at this point that we realize there’s no one running with us anymore and the track has turned into patches of dirt and weeds. The client is stopped, scratching their head and trying to come up with answers. The phone call usually ends soon after this stage with a “We’ll have to get back to you.”

Don’t get me wrong. We’ll offer assistance on helping discover the answers, but for the most part, us asking is the first time the client has ever even thought about those things. Therefore, even with help and guidance, they’re not ready to decide one way or another.

Preparedness Checklist

Therefore, we’ve decided to help make things easier for potential clients. Here’s a nice little checklist (PDF version here) for you to go through so that you’ll know what we’ll be asking. If you don’t have the answers to the questions, no problem. We’ll discus what to do in the next section of this post.

  • Tell us a little bit about your team: how you met, why you’re working together and what the end goal is.
  • What is your app idea? Why is this gonna be an app people will install?
  • Where do you need help? We can do design, programming, project management and backends, but what do you need from us?
  • What mobile platforms have you decided on? iOS (iPhone/iPad) or Android? Native apps or shared web app in a native wrapper?
  • Do you have the wireframes done? Do you have final design done? Are you going to be using native controls or trying to invent your own to create a unified look across platforms?
  • Do you need a backend for the app? If so, have you figured out what calls are needed per screen to populate the fields with the correct data? How often will the app and data sync? What about race conditions if users are sharing same data?
  • If you’re building the backend, is it ready for us to use? (Note: We didn’t say test, although typically the UI team winds up being the backend tester.) Do you have separate dev and production environments? Are there experts available that can answer all our questions?
  • If we’re building the backend, are you ready for us to build it? Do you have the schema all laid out? Do you know what type of backend you’re going to want? If cloud, which one? How will you be querying the data? How much will you be storing?
  • What’s your timeline? What’s your budget?
  • Do you have an internal team to work with or hand off the project too? How much training do we need to give them before, during or after the hand off?
  • What’s your SCM strategy? What’s your branching strategy within that choice? What bug/feature tracking software you going to use? Does it integrate with your code repository checkins to tie code to bugs/features?

I’m Lost, Can You Help?

A lot of clients don’t have answers to all those questions. And that’s okay. We can help you answer those questions for you. These are questions that you’ll need answers for regardless of who you use to help develop your product. In fact, we’d advise you to print out our list of questions and have them handy when you talk to other consulting shops. Our primary goal is your success, and this proves it. If others don’t ask all these questions, they’re probably more concerned about your budget first and foremost.

We have implemented many projects for many types of businesses. We can scale our efforts to include or exclude various offerings to match your level of detail. We do have our own methods of working, but the main thing is to make sure your project is successful. If we cannot help you be successful, we won’t take on your project. It’s that simple.

Most consultants are smart about tech. You are smart about your business. Where Omega Ortega excels is taking the tech knowledge, quickly grasping your business and merging the two successfully into a product. As we’re running through your project, we realize that sometimes we have to help you build the path to success. As we cross the finish line, the key is to make sure that you’re ready to run the next race with the right tools.

Think you’re ready or want to find out if you’re ready? Reach out and we’ll setup a call to chat about your project.