Choosing an IT consulting vendor can feel daunting. Lots of choice, varying levels of experience, the list goes on. We recently spoke with Senior Project Manager Bernard Devin to learn how Chateaux goes beyond tech expertise to provide clients with top-notch service.
What is Chateaux’s ethos when working with clients?
The primary shared value is to always have the client’s interest in mind and be sincere in trying to help them realize their product or solution vision. We do this by implementing our Define.Design.Deliver Methodology and incorporating openness and transparency in the process. As a project manager, I try to lead by example and encourage my team to follow the same values. I think of Chateaux as the professionals engaged to solve a client problem, working together in good faith to achieve that goal. Part of that is counselling the client when things they want are only possible at great cost (or not possible at all), being upfront about costs, and setting realistic timeline expectations. This all must be balanced against making sure we stay within budget while also being open to change requests and ensuring clients know the impact of change on costs.
How does Chateaux prioritize communication when engaging with a client? Why is it important?
A recent scenario comes to mind that really highlights the importance of communication when working with a consulting agency: One of our clients encountered roadblocks with their previous IT solutions vendor. The project’s deliverables were not meeting the client’s expectations and the client was unable to reconcile their ever-increasing bills against the proposed project effort.
Chateaux reviewed the situation and found that the previous vendor’s work was reasonably executed but that poor communication between the client and vendor’s project team was damaging to productivity and the client’s bottom line. The client’s needs were not being understood or properly implemented, and if there was a reason for billing overages, they were not communicated sufficiently or on time.
When Chateaux inherited the project, we knew that communication would be critical to success—as it is with all our engagements. We tackled this by giving regular status updates on the accrued spending based on hours, being transparent when roadblocks emerged, giving the client the option to modify features as we progressed, and ensuring that the client remained actively involved in the testing and approval process. This allowed the client to know exactly what they were getting and how much it would cost. Together, we reviewed budgets and identified exactly what the product would require to be successful so that we could work within designated parameters while keeping expectations realistic. Ultimately, the client was pleased and grateful with the end result and the transparency used to lock in success.
How does Chateaux ensure clients feel heard and part of their project, even if is technically beyond their understanding?
We try to keep an open-door policy that allows the client to speak, email, or text with the assigned resources over any project concerns, at any stage in the project. For Agile projects, we follow Scrum principles that require a lot of clear communication, as well as making the client the “Product Owner” in terms of Agile methodology. This means that they tell us the requirements in business language and then we implement the technical components. They are then able to check progress during UAT processes to make sure our deliverables meet their needs. If it does not, we listen, and provided there is budget, we adjust the project. By fostering deep collaboration and a share enthusiasm for success, we can hit project goals together.
If a client has a question or concern, do they have someone they can reach out to at any time?
As a small company, we provide a more intimate, customized experience for our clients by truly becoming extensions of their own teams. Clients can and do reach out to me as project manager, as well as other appointed team leads. These leads have fantastic client handling skills that truly elevate the collaborative experience. I prefer this to single-point of communication models that “Ivory Tower IT” teams often take within companies – I think it is important to balance a developer’s need for solitude to program effectively alongside members of a team that all have a responsibility to support the client’s questions or concerns.
What makes working with Chateaux unique?
We have a unique group of people who not only know how to do their own jobs well, but who are keen to pitch in as team players to help projects be successful. Chateaux’s highly skilled developers possess deep bench strength in many technical areas. They also have a proven thirst to learn new technologies to make themselves more versatile. By staying up on the latest cutting edge technologies like blockchain, microservices, and React development, we add more value to every project. Since we do not focus on any one industry group, we have a great ability to apply our Chateaux approach to companies ranging from one or two person start-up shops to enterprise corporations. If you work with Chateaux, you’re not going to get a monolithic IT approach, but work with a partner that has a team with a diverse technical background and high comfort level with different sized clients in different industries. We tend to be flexible with our approach to projects and while we follow a similar process with most, we do not have a strict rulebook and force every project to fit the box. We recognize that every client’s needs are unique.
If you’d like to get in contact about undertaking a project with us, please email [email protected] – we would love to hear how we can help you!