Smaller web design & development teams, as well as freelancers, will often find themselves partnering with other professional service providers when working on larger projects. There may be copywriters, graphic designers, brand managers, system administrators, and database specialists, just to name a few, getting in the mix to form a larger, more complete team. In our nine years doing web design & development at Pelago, we’ve partnered with several different design agencies and technical firms on many occasions. Before settling in with a partner and committing to a project, consider these tips, and you may avoid some potentially disastrous relationships.
Often times, an opportunity for a partnership is also an opportunity to work with someone for the first time. Trying to hit deadlines and stay within budget is difficult enough already, getting stuck on a large project with someone you don’t relate to well can only make things worse. We recommend working on a small project together first, before diving into something larger. The timing isn’t always great and there will be a lot of pressure to just get the larger project started. But, you need to push back. Clients will respect you more for being thorough and you’ll protect your reputation from being dragged down by a sour partnership.
Personality plays a huge role in how you’ll get along with others on a project. We all know designers and developers who can be difficult, and project managers who can come across overbearing. Set aside some time to socialize in a neutral setting, like a restaurant or bar, and get to know each other outside the professional labels we self-apply. Knowing someone on a more personal level helps to alleviate the frustrating moments, giving us a larger context to put perspective on difficult situations. And, once you get below the surface you may find common interests that can evolve into friendships.
There is going to be a lot of back-and-forth between you and other members working on the project. There may or may not be a project manager sifting through and delegating all of the details. Communication between everyone is essential for pulling a project off, especially since most teams will be distributed geographically across different states, countries, and continents. Make sure potential partners are well-versed in some type of online project management tool. It makes a notable difference to have a project, along with all its workflow components — time, tasks, documents, notes — in one centralized location, accessible by team members at any time of day.