How Does Viget Start New Projects?

Kate Trenerry, Client Strategy Director

Article Categories: #Strategy, #Project Management

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Getting projects underway isn't hard when you have a seasoned team to guide you through the process. Here's what new clients can expect when starting out with the Viget team.

Picture this. It's Friday afternoon at Viget. Developers are wrapping up the week's tickets, PMs are writing tasking notes to hit inboxes on Monday morning, and everyone working from an office is getting ready for a round of Crokinole before officially starting the weekend. Suddenly there's a buzz in the open-seating area, and notifications are flying on Slack. This just in: a new client has decided to work with us! But now what? Getting from here to the point where we're actually doing the work is a familiar path that we've documented and refined over the years. Here's what happens behind the scenes and what new clients can expect between making the decision to work with Viget and getting underway.

The Official Stuff

First up on our to-do list is the paperwork required to make our partnership official.

  • Typically, new clients will receive a copy of our standard Master Services Agreement, which outlines the official terms of our partnership, like confidentiality, intellectual property, and invoicing.

  • You'll also receive a Task Order which outlines the specifics of our engagement and includes items like the schedule, assumptions, and scope.

  • Together, these two documents comprise our standard approach to contracts. But if your team has different requirements, that's okay, too; we've seen it all.

  • Once we have signed the contracts, we'll confirm the project team, lock in our start date, and introduce you to your Project Manager, who will be running the day-to-day work.

Behind the Scenes

While all of this is happening, the Viget team is working hard to prepare for a smooth start.

  • The Digital Strategist you've been working with will write a detailed message for the Project Manager that outlines the project's goals, key client and internal team members, existing materials, project budget and schedule, and any essential notes from contract discussions. They'll post this message in Basecamp where it's shared with the project team and Viget leadership for broader visibility.

  • The Digital Strategist and Project Manager will have an internal handoff meeting to discuss the nuances of the project and plan how they'll work together during the engagement. The collaboration process typically includes setting up recurring one-on-one meetings, surfacing previous relevant experience, identifying professional development goals, and deciding what touch points make sense for the project (e.g., an in-person workshop or a social hour with our client team).

  • Finally, the Project Manager will facilitate an internal kickoff meeting to discuss the project with the whole team. Typically, the project team also talks about what success and failure would look like, shares personal goals for professional development, and talks about how they plan to share feedback amongst the team.

Your Homework

Sometimes, it can be several weeks between contract execution and project start. If this is the case for your project, we like to leverage the gap period whenever possible.

  • Ahead of project start, we like to identify all of the systems the Viget team will need access to and start the ball rolling on that process. Examples can include Google Analytics, the existing content management system, a GitHub repository, research, or brand guidelines. Frequently, different departments or teams have ownership over these types of documents and systems so it can take a while to wrangle them and share with us. Having the right access in place allows us to hit the ground running on Day 1.

  • It’s normal to begin projects with a lot of unknowns. Sometimes, we can help identify major topics for your team to unpack or discuss internally in order to help us move forward more quickly once we are officially underway. We might ask about the big-picture vision for a team or product, or look to gather more tactical information about the status of various internal efforts we've heard about. When our client teams can efficiently fill us in on the business context for their work, we’re able to ask more pointed questions and offer better advice and analysis early on in our engagement.

  • We always work to help clients plan for stakeholder expectations and involvement throughout the project. If time allows, we might ask you to join us for a live white boarding exercise where we map out all of the folks involved in the project from different departments and levels of the organization. In the past, we’ve sketched out traditional org charts, made conceptual diagrams to convey an individual's relationship to specific pieces of the work, and mapped out timelines to visualize when to tap stakeholders outside the core team. We might even trot out an old-fashioned RACI matrix, but I’ve found that the visual exercises are better for candid discussion and unpacking the nuances that inevitably accompany stakeholder priorities and involvement.

Getting Started

Finally! The day has arrived, and it's time to get started. Sometimes this happens in just a few days, and sometimes it can take several weeks. Either way, it's always exciting to begin bringing our vision to life with a new client team.

One of the most common questions we hear about the project’s start is: "When can we schedule a kickoff meeting?" "Kickoff" is one of those words that can mean something different to every person and organization, so that's a surprisingly tricky question to answer. Consequently, we rarely schedule kickoff meetings before the project starts. We want our kickoff meetings to be substantive and productive. Therefore, our team needs enough time to onboard, gather initial insights, and frame the input we need from the executives we expect to be in a kickoff meeting. With these factors in mind, kickoff meetings often occur in Week 3 or 4 of a new project.

At the same time, we don't want to leave you in the dark about who we are or what we're doing, so we typically schedule two key touch points before a full-blown kickoff:

  • We'll set up a short one-on-one meeting between our Project Manager and the equivalent role from our client's team. In addition to personal introductions and starting to build a strong relationship, this is a great time to sync up on project logistics like communication tools, meeting cadence, vacation schedules, and a variety of other details. We'll come prepared with a tailored list of questions to ensure we start off organized.

  • We'll make sure to set up a time when the whole Viget team can meet the core client team. This session helps us get to know one another and can be a great time to share hopes, dreams, and fears about the project. We won't be bringing any work or hard-hitting insights to the table, but we will bring our professional selves and a sense of curiosity, and hope we’ll get the same from you.

Off to the Races

And just like that, we're off to the races! Getting started on a new project isn't hard when you have a seasoned team to guide you through the process.

Of course, we're constantly fine-tuning our approach and finding ways to tailor it for specific clients. With that in mind, we'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback: What do you need most from agency partners when it comes to project onboarding?

Kate Trenerry

Kate is a client strategy director in our Falls Church, VA, HQ. She helps new clients distill complex ideas into elegant digital experiences.

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