When working with other agencies, SMEs or B2B on WordPress Technical Projects and Support our Flexible Packages often work best. This is an overview of that service and how it came to be a major part of our agency service offering.
Nice FLEX(ible) but OK!
A few years ago we started to offer a different approach to delivering work at our agency.
The idea started pretty basic. We needed a system to cover both low-cost, small, ‘intro’ projects with new clients and also deliver agile and flexible high-value projects with a quick turnaround and no long-term obligations.
I’d always struggled with the concept of ‘retainers’ but they seemed like a good fit, but I felt that we needed to be more flexible and agile than what some ‘standard’ agency retainer packages might offer.
So we worked hard and pulled together a new service we refer to as our “Flexible Packages” – These are ‘retainer-INSPIRED‘ hourly packages for when a client needs a more flexible arrangement for on-going work, support, training or projects or any scale.
Clients Get Access to Our Team Whenever They Need Us
Packages are a ‘pot of time’ to be used on any service provided by our team. This includes development, design, consultancy, project management, training, account management, basically anything goes.
We manage the packages by the hour and work is either scheduled in advance after short and concise ‘discovery’ sessions with the client or used to quickly turnaround new ideas, small projects or just fix a broken WordPress website.
From developing a complex API for your company CRM to designing a new homepage or just helping you add content to your site – the packages cover it all.
Working with Other Agencies
The Flexible WordPress Packages we offer are very popular with other agencies. Especially other agencies who specialise in Creative Design, Branding, Advertising, Marketing and SEO and simply do not have the internal technical skills to manage large WordPress projects.
Projects by the Hour, not by the Day
The ‘currency’ at Make Do is hours, not days, or weeks, or sprints, we borrowed this concept from how legal-sector workers and technical consultants bill for time. It’s a tried-and-tested method but rarely used to ‘farm out’ an agency.
Nowadays we rarely, if ever, book out our team by the ‘day’, hours are a far more flexible and honest concept to use for our customers.
It also allows us to get multiple team members working on a piece of work and switching and rotating around different hourly schedules.
Was this easy to digest at first? Nope. But we adapted and this approach to ‘by the hour’ is now deeply embedded in our teams daily workflow.
We Become an External-Internal-Team
When using this service our WordPress development team work hard to integrate deeply into our clients team so they really get to know who they are working with.
Our engineers follow WordPress VIP Coding Standards and modern development and deployment methods so that our clients don’t have to. This is crucial in building trust and making sure that the client comes back and ordered new packages from our team in future.
Deep down, our team love to take on any Technical WordPress challenge! It’s as simple as that.
Retainers… But Not Really Retainers
Most agency retainers last 30 days, or a few months at best. This didn’t work for us. We recently allowed our customers to have up to a 12-month expiration on the lifespan of their packages.
This might seem odd and counter-intuitive but we do a lot of work with the public sector, the NHS, and large cumbersome organisations. It can sometime take months before decisions are made and it can also mean that projects and ideas are put on hold for newer, more urgent tasks.
This method helps us to work with clients like this by offering a fair and valuable service.
Embracing the Unknown
Of course, we still offer bid-focused fixed-price work if a client has a scope/RFP but more and more we’re seeing that our packages are the way to go for work of any size.
Even the best scoped-out fixed-price project can be filled with unknowns, and assumptions. Even a short delay to a project can also mean that once a project has launched, it’s just no longer viable.
Flexible Packages like the ones we offer at Make Do get around this by allowing our team to shift focus quickly.
A Simple After-Care Solution
Alongside our Flexible Packages we still also offer extensive and carefully crafted SLA-driven maintenance, hosting and support solutions.
These are a necessity for some of our customers with highly technical custom solutions and mission-critical applications and tools that we’ve built.
But getting these type of solutions in place and agreed can be a long, difficult and sometimes impossible process for some organisations such as SMEs, charities or startups.
To counter this we also offer our Flexible Packages as basic WordPress support systems (with no SLA) giving our clients the help they need.
And even if Make Do didn’t actually design and build your WordPress website, system or App, that’s fine! As long as it’s WordPress we can support it using this method.
Data and Reporting for our Clients
Experienced Technical Agencies like Make Do log and track time and effort to ensure all of our clients can see the value of their investment.
Using this data we can easily generate regular and transparent reports for clients that outline exactly where the package time was spent
We also update our clients on a weekly basis to the number of hours they currently have ‘in the bank’ – even if they haven’t used the service for weeks, or months.
This is our way of reminding them that we are here if they need us and can use the hours that they paid for for any new ideas or projects.
The Tools Our Team Uses…
Managing this whole thing was a learning experience for our agency. We had to implement new data systems to track time and improve our schedule system and get the right level of paperwork in place to ensure our clients were covered.
The main tools we use to provide our flexile package services are:
- Trello: For setting tasks, managing the flow of work and communicating status of the current tasks
- Harvest: Time tracking, from engineers to project managers, everyone at Make Do has to do this
- Forecast (Extension of Harvest): Excellent scheduling tool, allows us to see what we’re doing months in advance and quickly adapt
- GitHub: Code repository and technical project management
- Google Sheets: We have SO many spreadsheets it’s unreal!
- Google Docs: For reporting, updates and memos to clients (all sent via email PDFs)
- Appear.in and Hangouts Meet: Frictionless video calling
- Slack: Mostly used for internal communication but some clients have their own ‘guest’ accounts
A Flexible Balance
There are different ways to engage with an agency and it’s important you find the right fit at the outset. Our Flexible Packages are the right balance for most of what we do, if you want to know more get in touch!