Diagnostic Engagements: your roadmap to getting what you need (as well as what you want)
When embarking on business transformation projects, such as migration, integration or automation projects, SpotDev believes it is crucial to start with a comprehensive understanding of stakeholders' needs and expectations. This is where our Diagnostic Engagement model comes into play.
Too often, agencies embark upon in-depth, technical projects without having assessed the true requirements, let alone the disruption that can be caused to clients, or their expectations of what a successful project looks like. Likewise, some agencies focus on delivering what a client says they want, without holistically evaluating what they need: they fix the symptom but not the cause of business pain points.
At SpotDev, we believe in demystifying the entire project journey to ensure clarity at every step, avoiding disappointment for clients and unexpected workload (or missed deadlines) for everyone. We believe in getting to the heart of your issues and finding a solution that will prevent similar problems happening again, rather than just papering over the cracks.
In this blog post, we will explore the concept of our Diagnostic Engagements and its significance in ensuring the success of both straightforward and complex projects. We will also discuss how this method has been refined and adapted to meet various business needs over time, so that if you start work with SpotDev, you know you’re getting the best possible roadmap to achieving your ambitious business requirements.
What is a Diagnostic Engagement?
A Diagnostic Engagement is the first step we take in any automation, integration or migration project. It involves:
- Conducting in-depth discussions with stakeholders who will be impacted by a project: we need to know how the project will directly affect you and your teams, what your expectations are and how we can keep interruptions to a minimum
- The purpose is to uncover your high-level objectives and translate them into specific requirements.
- We go beyond vague requests like 'integration' by delving into the details of what integration means to the people who will be using the integrated tools (as it can often mean different things to different parts of the business).
By using a standardised format known as ‘Use Case, User Story, Acceptance Criteria and Solution’, the diagnostic process aims to align the project with your company's business needs and operational requirements – as well as identifying unforeseen issues which may cause issues further down the line.
The ‘Use Case, User Story, Acceptance Criteria and Solution’ format
The ‘Use Case, User Story, Acceptance Criteria and Solution’ format is a structured approach used during the Diagnostic Engagement. It starts with identifying the stakeholder's perspective, such as a salesperson wanting to see the engagement rate from a specific platform, like LinkedIn.
- The acceptance criteria outlines the triggers and conditions necessary for the desired outcome
- The solution maps out how to achieve it, including any necessary steps.
This granular planning helps our clients understand what they will get from the project before committing their resources and budget to working with us.
The evolution of the Diagnostic Engagement format
The Diagnostic Engagement format has been refined over time to address common challenges and improve clarity for everyone involved. The ‘Use Case, User Story, Acceptance Criteria and Solution’ format plays a pivotal role in removing ambiguity, and ensuring everyone involved understands the project's scope.
- By documenting the requirements and obtaining client sign-off, the diagnostic process reduces assumptions and prevents scope creep.
- It means vital elements are not forgotten or neglected until the last minute: there is a clear roadmap to follow from the start.
- The standardised format also facilitates communication with technical partners and other stakeholders, fostering a shared understanding of project goals.
Benefits and client attitudes to our approach
You might just want to get started on your project and feel that a Diagnostic Engagement will use up time that could be spent building, but there are many benefits to the process:
- The diagnostic process helps non-technical companies or team members gain a deeper understanding of their own requirements by asking pertinent questions they may have overlooked internally.
- This often leads to project refinements and alternative solutions that are more cost-effective, efficient or aligned with their goals.
- Ultimately, the Diagnostic Engagement improves project outcomes and minimises unexpected issues.
Bradley Nolan, Head of Strategic Projects at Learning & Development Institute (L&DI) who we worked with on a Diagnostic Engagement, then a website development project, said:
‘The Diagnostic Engagement was a beneficial process which allowed us to set out our thoughts; it forced us to really mine what functionality we needed, and the interrelationships between different areas of our business.
From an operational point of view, it highlighted some cross-selling opportunities by forcing us to think about the clients’ journey. It also supported crucial work we needed to do on mapping processes.
It gave us confidence that SpotDev understood what we wanted and needed. It was clear from the process that they were very focused on 'how' it could deliver what we needed.’
Of course, it was! To find out more about what the full L&DI website project entailed, you can read more in our case study.
Comparison with other consultancies
Not all consultancies follow a diagnostic approach. Some may dive straight into delivering the requested work or may have an alternative method of gaining all the information they need ahead of starting. Whatever their approach, at SpotDev, we have found the Diagnostic Engagement works time and time again. Not only does it offer our clients solutions to their known day-to-day challenges, but it empowers them by identifying unknown or potential future problems which can be fixed now, too.
When deciding which technical consultancy to work with on your automation, integration or migration project, we recommend you ask your prospective partner questions like:
- How do you avoid the scope of work unexpectedly increasing as the project proceeds?
- How do you avoid delays and extra costs once the project starts?
- Is the full process mapped out and documented ahead of starting?
- How do you set a schedule/timeline and how do you stick to it?
What you’re looking for is upfront alignment, reducing the need for repeated work or major changes, as we achieve through the Diagnostic Engagement.
Diagnostic Engagements play a vital role in ensuring the success of business projects, particularly those involving migrations, integrations and automations. You might come to SpotDev with a problem, but through our interrogation of your business goals and expectations, we can ensure you not only get what you want but what your organisation needs out of the project. This helps you avoid nasty, unforeseen setbacks further down the line.
By delving into stakeholders' objectives, documenting requirements, and mapping out solutions, the diagnostic process eliminates ambiguity, prevents scope creep, and fosters effective communication – which also gives you a preview of how we mean to go on, should we continue working together.
While some clients may experience anxiety or uncertainty about this method – spending time talking about and documenting a project before building something - the benefits become evident as you gain a comprehensive understanding of your own needs and witness the efficient project outcomes. Embracing Diagnostic Engagements is a strategic step toward project success and maximised value for our clients.
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