Whenever starting a new relationship in our personal lives, we don’t jump in with both feet.
There is a feeling-out process, where we learn more about the other person, and decide whether we like them or not.
Of course, the other person is doing the same thing.
Working relationships are a lot like our friendships and relationships outside of work.
It takes time to cultivate them. We have to see if we have good chemistry together. We have to establish trust in each other before we move on to investing more of ourselves.
Why is it then, that so many web projects start with a large-scale project, with no prelude to the relationship?
Instead of wading in the shallow end of the pool and then moving over to the deep end, both parties jump into the deep water without knowing if the other one can swim?
Instead of going on a date, and then going steady, getting engaged and finally getting married, why do we jump right into getting hitched after a week of meeting each other?
When starting a new working relationship with a web partner, both sides should start things off mellow, with a smaller project, before moving to a large project.
This gives both parties time to get to know each other, see how they work together, and see if they are a good fit for each other as long-term allies.
The Problem In A Nutshell
Many businesses do not have a strategic web partner. While small businesses most often find themselves in this situation, even large organizations and companies can be guilty of this.
Why are they in this position?
Larger organizations may have their hands tied by a RFP process that doesn’t allow for establishing an ongoing relationship with a web partner. They also may be bound by industry regulations or internal policies that force them to start the selection process anew with each new web project.
Small and mid-sized businesses usually fall into one of two categories.
Scenario #1 is the most common. Web professionals were hired from Craigslist or similar job boards at a much-too-low rate, and now the old web person is nowhere to be found. Presumably, they are out of business.
Scenario #2 less common, but it still happens. In this scenario, the business is in an ongoing relationship with a web partner they are unhappy with, but they don’t know how to replace them. The business owner may not have time, energy, or expertise to conduct a new search for a web partner. The energy required to stay in a bad arrangement is less than the energy it takes to find a new web development partner, so the cycle continues.
A Low-Risk Solution
Small paid projects are the way to start a new relationship with a web professional, especially where there is fear of making a bad decision.
Once the business has compiled a short list of candidates, give them each a small project that already needs to be completed. This even works well in cases where the shortlist is a single candidate.
This gives the business a tangible experience to evaluate, instead of just screenshots on a portfolio or data points on a page.
A small project mitigates risk for both the web consultant and hiring business in several ways.
For the business, their risk is minimized in selecting a web partner.
- A small project lets everyone see how they work together.
- The financial risk to the business is smaller.
- Work that needs to get done is still getting done!
- If the work relationship runs smoothly, there is confidence enough to move on to bigger projects.
- If the two parties aren’t a good fit, both sides can walk away unharmed after the small project.
Leading with a small project is also good for the web consultant.
- A small project allows them to evaluate the work relationship.
- It helps them better assess the decision structure of the organization.
- The consultant can see if their services are a good fit for the client.
- Any red flags that were not previously revealed will be brought to light.
Ideally, the starter project is a way for both sides to confirm they are a good fit and move forward in a long-term working relationship.
Establishing an ongoing relationship, where both sides feel good about working together, is what both sides are truly seeking.