People looking to build an application know what they want, but they don’t always know the most effective way to get there. It’s our job to make their lives easier by guiding them through the process. Having a team that has collectively worked on hundreds of applications means we know what a successful project looks like. The early working relationship we establish means absolutely everything to us.
As a consulting agency, we get a variety of emails and calls about all sorts of potential work. We build custom applications from scratch, augment and lead existing teams, and train developers all over the world. And since we work with companies of all shapes and sizes, we feel that we’ve gotten pretty good about knowing where we fit in well and where we don’t.
Our work is typically strategic in nature. If we’re building an application from scratch, it’s because someone has an idea and needs a team to build it. When we augment existing teams, it is to add extra throughput to achieve a deadline or to bring a skill set that doesn’t currently exist.
Finding the right partner
For us, the factors to determine if there’s a fit are fairly obvious even though we don’t write them in stone or add them to our wiki. We look for common ground on the following:
- Type of work
- Length of the engagement
- Project budget
Money is certainly what allows us to keep this machine running, but compensation isn’t what unlocks the most value for our agency. We’ve taken on projects below our weekly rate because they have given us an opportunity to enter a new industry or utilize a new technology.
So conversely, one would think that we would demand more compensation if the factors above weren’t ideal. The opposite is true. We simply don’t take the business. That is even the case for projects that seem good at first but turn sour after months of negotiations trying to find common ground.
We’ve found that it isn’t worth trying to make a bad situation into a good one. Whether right or wrong, we’ve successfully grown our business by choosing partnerships over vendor relationships.
Being treated like a vendor sucks
No one wants to be a vendor, order taker or outsider. These type of relationships may solve short term pains, but they do nothing for the long term. It’s the difference of being sent a long email chain with a comment saying “we need this done in a month and here’s our budget” versus being asked to join in on a brainstorming session with stakeholders.
Now imagine a relationship where the other side is always looking out for your best interest and thinking about future opportunities. Compare that to simply being told what the immediate needs are and what the budget is. The two scenarios yield completely different long term results.
Early on, we knew what type of partnerships we wanted to engage in. To help foster those type of relationships, we created a playbook to show our potential clients how we’ve been most successful. Here’s the copy from our opening page:
The Playbook is a guide that outlines our operating procedures and coding processes. These practices help us to create the best possible software products while ensuring a successful working relationship with our clients. This is how we work. — Echobind Playbook
Transparency is a word we use often at Echobind, and for good reason. Transparency is one of our key differentiators from being a vendor. It is what gives us the ability to work effectively internally and to provide a truly collaborative experience with our clients.
Being perfectly transparent: our goal is to make our partners look like heroes within their organization. We know that when this happens, we have created another longterm partnership.