[Part 1 in our series The Importance of Discovery]
Digital Discovery and Why You Need It
The Agency I want to work with just pitched us Discovery? Why?
You found them. They are the agency you want to work with. They get design, maybe have the development resources you need and know the technology you think you need. You fleshed out an RFP (request for proposal) as detailed as could be (or not at all). Next, you had one call with them, in which they said they want to “Do Discovery” first before giving you a formal proposal to design or build ANYTHING. AND, they want you to pay for this.
So, “Let me get this straight”, you think, “Why would I pay you to do a proposal for us and not actually deliver what we are asking for?”
Firstly, let me tell you that you may have picked the perfect agency. More-so than not, unless the agency has a very cookie cutter package for building a website and your business (and audience) or needs just a handful of pages and is very easy to market (super simple), they are probably right to do a Discovery. Let me explain.
The Challenges of Discovery
Here’s the challenge they are facing. You explained your business as best you could, but what you are asking for and what you need might not line up precisely. Sometimes in an introductory call, a prospect will say something like “We haven’t really figured out our audience yet” or “We are introducing a new product”. They tried thinking through the challenges that they might face to the point where they have a half-baked solution in a detailed RFP.
A lot of the challenges are defined, and they took the best guess at what they need. Therein lies the disconnect. You haven’t seen as many challenges as the agency you are hiring to help you, so your list of challenges can’t possibly be complete. You may not have even asked all the “right” questions. As such, the “right” agency should be part of finding the solution by first uncovering the challenges with you, and presenting new ones you probably didn’t think about.
The example we often use is a travel agent. If you want to book a trip to Florida, hang out in a condo near the beach for a couple days and come home, you certainly don’t need a travel agent, and you really don’t need all that much planning. However, if you are planning a trip to Greece to do some island hopping, taking 10 people with various diet restrictions, different islands on their bucket lists and the minimum number of starts each hotel must have in order to sleep adequately, you may want to do some planning first.
Planning Is Essential
A bigger web project is more like this trip to Greece. It has a lot of moving parts that need to be discussed, priorities to align and people to hear from. From politics to requirements gathering, to cost implications, the planning is essential to make sure that the “right” people get their way. That way, the people that believed they knew exactly where to go and what to do, can get on board with the “best” laid plan.
The main goal of getting to a design and/or development SOW (scope of work) is to clearly define what you will get, when it can get done and what it will cost. In order to get that, you need to first identify what’s most important to get done and you might not be the right person to do it.
Sometimes it’s worth the time (and money) to pay the right team to do this right and make sure you don’t end up in East Jibip with a hatchet and a sack of potatoes when you wanted to tour Italy for the Best Wine (which is a metaphor for a site that doesn’t speak to your audience, doesn’t meet your brand or doesn’t solve the main business goals you sought to achieve).