|I l @ ve RuBoard|
We start the process by scheduling three meetings with the customer, each approximately three hours in length. The main objective of these meetings is to thrash out what the customer should be doing online. We review what other companies have done in this area (including key competitors ), what possibilities there are for our customer, and what new ideas should be discussed further.
Each meeting focuses on one of the following topics:
The strategist or project manager will begin each meeting with a presentation aimed at educating the participants on the relevant issues and best practices of other Internet projects currently online in the topic area.  More than just background reviews to bring the customer up to speed, the meetings are also a basis for discussion.
Customers don't have the experience to tell the development team what they want. They need a coach to educate them on the business opportunities and pitfalls of the proposed Web-based site or system. Good strategists will lay out the full range of what can be done to make the site a success in the marketplace . The customer still calls all the shots, and, as she becomes more aware of the development and business issues, the role of the strategist diminishes.
Once the presentation is complete, the meeting turns to answering a number of questions prepared by the strategist. These questions, intended to spark conversation and aid in brainstorming, include
Release plan meetings are crucial because they raise customer awareness about what can be done on the Web. Many developers skip this step and instead use their own knowledge about the Internet and the customer's company in a proposal. This is a mistake because you don't know what the customer's real issues are. You can help by giving the customer enough information about what is possible, but he is in the best position to judge. In our experience the time spent educating the customer in things you take for granted transforms him into a team member.
It is also important to ensure that the customer is represented at meetings by all of those who will have crucial input into the strategic questions to be raised. Many companies involve only the marketing department or just the IT department in these talks, but we always push for representation from both. We have spent days in meetings to define projects with marketing departments, only to find that the proposed solution will require software that is not approved by IT. We have also worked with IT departments that agonize over which browsers to support for an internal application, only to have marketing tell them that they can mandate the use of just one.
|I l @ ve RuBoard|