Agencies are dying, consultants are too expensive, the next financial crisis is on the horizon... so how do you scale your business into the age of digital products when so many things are happening?
You adapt. And you are conscious about who you are going to bring on board to help you adapt. You need a team who has hands on experience with the flaws of both agencies and consultants, and who are aware of how to launch products successfully while making sure that you, and your team gain the tools and knowledge needed to get us out of the door as soon as possible.
Agencies have a great heart, they are usually accompanied by amazingly creative people who thrive on building new things. But communication between agencies and clients is flawed, working together is slow, and clients often feel like deliverables are handed over abruptly in such a way that it is hard for them to adopt whatever is delivered. The products build, mostly die, and agencies are seeing more and more clients only reaching out to them for campaigns or products with low stakes.
On the other side of the spectrum we have the consultants, who are seen as smart, with a great focus on transferring knowledge. Products here are usually better integrated with their clients and their teams. However, the consultant is mostly alone. Making it hard for them to help the client evolve their products because they are focused on coaching the team.
These two sides, made us wonder, what is the gray area here? Why is there no perfect balance? Is it because agencies don’t know how to transfer their knowledge? Or is it because consultants only function on a strategic level? Maybe it is a little bit of both. And that is exactly why we decided to start building on something that isn’t named yet. An interconnected way of working. We are a consulting agency with amazing talent. A place where we bring your team and our team together.
To help companies and start-ups along we have developed something that we like to call the Square One Lifecycle. The lifecycle works for all our customers because it is modular and focuses on agile setups for researchers, designers, and developers alike.
We apply it in two scenarios. Either you have a running business and you hire our team to come and help you build or optimize something. We will talk about your needs, rip apart the briefing until we understand what needs to happen, and then we send you a monthly bill for as long as you need us.
Or, you are about to start a new venture, you have a great idea and you need people to invest time in your product. If that is the case, you can come and pitch your idea to us. If we believe you are going to fly, we will help you get up in the sky for a profit share.
This is usually where it starts. You got an idea! Maybe you went out with colleagues and discussed how to solve certain issues, or maybe you ran into a problem and started thinking on how to solve that problem for others. In any case, everything starts with a perceived opportunity.
In most cases that opportunity you got is very valuable, but the hypothesis usually doesn’t solve the real issue yet. To figure out what really needs to happen we need to dive deep into the subject. This is where we start talking to people influenced by the problem you are trying to solve, and where we look for clues through market research, and subject explorations.
After we have gathered enough information it is time to figure out what it all means. During this phase we look at the information we have found, how they tie together, and which questions are not answered yet. After that we prioritize each item based on importance and share it with the team.
Once we know which items are important, and we have shared everything with the team, we look at a higher level. Here we define the main areas that we want to focus on as a team, these usually directly translate into epics for development teams and focus areas for designers and researchers.
At this point we have a rough idea of the things we know and which things we don't know. With this information we can fill up our design backlog and start designing the first version of our application, brand, website, or software. The questions that have not been answered yet will feed the backlog of the researchers.
After designing a feature, or minimal viable product, it might be a good idea to test it with the users. Whether to test it or not depends completely on the complexity of the issue and how much we trust in its validity. Results from a test like this will feed the backlog of the researchers, designers, and developers.
Once we roughly know what we want to build we can start refining the design together with the developers, at this stage we are all ready to start actually building the live environment. During this phase the designers and researchers will spend their time supporting the developers and extending their focus towards upcoming focus areas.
This is the part where we all feel anxious of joy. The first launch means we are ready to start delivering to the users and start our continuous delivery program (CI/CD). The information from the first test run will feed all our backlogs again and oil the product machine like not other.