Why? is probably one of the most important questions in IT.

When I’m presented with a project or new customer I always think to myself, why are you doing it? When a new customer approaches us at Stage Two, I think Why us? Once we’ve determine the motivations of the project, and we’ve discussed Stage Two’s strengths and weaknesses the next why is, Why now?

Why are you doing this project?

Sometimes in software this is obvious, but all too often (especially in more complex B2B scenarios) it’s not always clear.

I find this question important as first and foremost it gives me confidence that the customer has a clear objective, has thought about the project and knows the business objectives they are aiming to solve. It’s almost impossible to judge if a project was successful unless you know why you are doing it in the first place.

There are many different reasons to undertake a project, such as:

  • Replacing an existing legacy system
  • A new acquisition needing to be integrated into the existing solution
  • New or changed marketing approach or messaging
  • Company branding updates
  • etc..

One of the particularly interesting ones for me is replacing a legacy system. It is interesting, as it can often give us some nice KPIs to monitor during the project and measure against for success. In these scenarios, it’s interesting to discuss:

  • What exists currently and why is it not suitable?
  • What improvements are you hoping to see following this project?
  • What would you be giving up, not doing in this project?

It is a good chance to identify some high-level goals for the project, either internal or external, like:

  • Our editorial team can’t get content onto the web in a timely manner; it takes them two days to input and deploy a blog post.
  • We can’t show related products to customers interested in one or our products
  • Increase user signups

Why are you talking to Stage Two?

Next up is Stage Two, and why they wanted to talk to us. Maybe they’ve already done some homework on us, and know about us. Or maybe they don’t and this is an opportunity to tell people more about us.

This step is important as at Stage Two we’re looking to create lasting partnerships and relationships over several months and years. We want to explain that we’re a smaller agency, by choice, that wants to keep our overheads down to better serve our customers and also provide competitive rates vs. the competition.

It’s also a great chance to “qualify out”, if we’re not a match for the project the client is looking for. Maybe they want a big staff augmentation (that’s not for us) or maybe they’re looking for an experienced SDL project team (now you’re talking our language)

Why do this project now?

Once we understand the project, and we’re confident that the client and Stage Two are a good fit for one another, the next step is to chat timelines.

The problem we’re aiming to solve from question one did not appear overnight. It has likely been known for weeks, months or even years. So why is now the time they need to solve it.

The likely outcome of this question is one of either:

  • Opportunity - a gap in the market that they can exploit
  • Fear - being left behind in the market if they don’t do it, for example having a mobile version of their website

This will help us to plan the project, prioritize what is important and track the ‘nice to have’ features to potentially be addressed in later phases.