As a software design and development agency we are constantly building varying types of products and managing client priorities. As an organization it is our job to build strong external relationships with our clients while also maintaining a solid organizational structure internally to support the various needs that arise from our paying customers.
It is often stated that successful businesses need the right combination of people, process, and product to be successful. In applying this methodology to our business, we must make sure to deliver successfully for all of our clients and allocate bandwidth appropriately. To do this it is essential that we have the right staff to support varying technical and design tasks, the right tools to manage our process and the right technical services focus to address our client needs. In this blog we will unpack the three pillars of a strong agency.
A business is only as strong as the people within it. When it comes to hiring staff, an age old saying that we abide by is: “Hire smart people and get out of their way.” Finding the right people can make or break the success of a project and ultimately have a trickle up effect on the entire business. The majority of our business is won through referrals so if we are delivering a top-notch service for one client, we recognize that this client may tell others about our work together which would lead us to new client opportunities. Completing and delivering a project requires diligence from individual team members who possess certain values. To find the right people, we take hiring incredibly seriously.
When interviewing a new employee we will often evaluate their competency, experience, and most importantly their values through a series of interviews with several members of our team. We fully recognize that someone may not have the most experience but if they match our core values, we anticipate that they will be successful in the long term. At Lithios, we hire based on the values below:
By following these values in our hiring process, we have been able to not only bring on the right people but also give them room to learn and grow within our organization. It has also led to other operational efficiencies where we are able to better understand strengths and weaknesses and fill gaps where needed. By bringing on employees with these base values, we are able to keep a standard of excellence which in turn helps our business grow.
In a traditional Software as a Service (SaaS) company, there is often one primary product line that a business focuses on. For example Pendo, a Raleigh, NC SaaS company, builds a base analytics tool that helps other software focused organizations monitor traffic and usage across their applications. Pendo specifically has a heavy focus on developing the best possible experience for the customers on their platform. In doing so, their customers are willing to pay for additional functionality based on their derived value from the platform.
Our business works a little bit differently. Our PRODUCT is the ability to leverage various technical tools to create a single product and to do this for different clients. The ability to provide this flexibility to meet client needs means that fundamentally our SERVICE offerings are our product. As an agency we have spent years honing our craft to be able to provide different services for different client needs. Below is a list of some of the varying tools that we can leverage on a given client engagement.
To provide an example of this, a client may come to us and request that we build an application that solves a particular problem in the healthcare space. As an agency we have years of experience solving a variety of healthcare problems and working within various technical specialty areas. Based on these experience we can more efficiency help the client select their technical platform, create comprehensive design deliverables (UI Samples and UX Flows) to guide the development process and then build the application based on the skills and experience that we have. Thus the services we offer as our “product” end up supporting our client needs and in turn help us build our business.
The final pillar of building a successful agency is process. I would strongly argue that it should be the goal of operations to limit all unnecessary processes but to keep in mind that having some process in place is important. As businesses grow out of the startup phase, oftentimes they are implementing more and more additional processes which help sharpen the operational capacity of each employee. At Lithios we have several different departments that require their own processes to run efficiently. Fundamentally our departments are:
Each of these departments has their own focus areas. Today I will speak about our operations department priorities. In leading operations at Lithios my goal is to develop processes that benefit the other departments and help us run more efficiently. To do this we have done a combination of things, here are a few examples:
By building out process in each of our departments similarly to the example above we have been able to reduce miscommunications, scope projects more accurately and deliver more value to our clients while increasing our revenue. Generally processes should only serve to benefit capable employees who simply can work more efficiently and accurately with these practices in place. If too much additional process is needed for particular employees to try to offset weaknesses, then this potentially is more of a “people” problem.
By creating an intense focus on people, product and process we have been able to grow our business significantly over the years. These functions will look different in every agency or business but the core tenants remain. This is just the tip of the iceberg, if you ever want to learn more about the details of how we think about people, product and process drop us a line.
Contact us to see why the brightest companies trust Lithios.Get in touch