Clients Aren’t Customers – They’re Teammates

The Detroit Lions have been having a tough year with their kicking game. They are on their third kicker this year, and the season is only half over!  As a Lions fan, I was happy to hear the kicker say this:

“If they send me out there, they’re not sending me out there to just kick the ball. They expect points.”

– Matt Prater, Detroit Lions field goal kicker

I felt that this guy understands it’s the results that matter. (Let’s just forget that he missed his first two fields goals this year.) We want him to go out there and kick the ball, sure. But we also want the result of the kick to get us some points!

Results-Driven Design & Development

It occurred to me that this also applies to the work Atomic Object does. Our clients hire us to write code, sure. But ultimately they are hiring us to design and build a great product for them.

Maybe we are building a product that helps them improve efficiency, or make their users more productive, or make their product easier to use, or maybe it allows them to realize their dream of starting their own company. In any case, it’s the results that matter. And it’s ultimately the results that define our success.

Strong Client/Maker Teams = Strong Results

Atoms have a lot of experience in building products for our clients. Many of the processes we follow and build into the project are designed with the end result in mind.

But like successful football, it has to be a team effort, and the client is a big part of the team. At Atomic, we don’t work for clients, we work with them. It’s the only way to get results.

The client sets the goals that define success.

The client best understand the problem they’re trying to solve. We may help them figure out how to solve it, but they ultimately decide what the product needs to accomplish. “Success” isn’t about finishing the project; it’s about meeting their goals, about creating something useful. And at the end of the day, the client is the one who judges the results (hopefully by saying, “That’s even better than we imagined!”). I get most excited about our work when I hear from clients about the people they are helping, about the downloads they are getting, and about the positive reviews the product is getting.

The client upholds the vision.

Creating a software product can take months or years of work, involving thousands and thousands of choices. It can be easy to lose the forest for the trees, especially if we lose sight of the client perspective. Having several clients on the team keeps us pointed in the right direction, which is why we get clients involved at the start and keep them involved throughout design and development.

The client helps remove obstacles.

Our clients work with us to block and tackle any roadblocks to success—before they can slow us down. This often happens at weekly iteration meetings, where we review the past week’s work and discuss any difficulties or potential challenges we see coming down the road. This helps the team focus on what steps need to be taken to ensure a clear path towards the end result.

It’s rare that we quote Lions players in our blog (I believe it might even be the first time). But we feel the same way about our job as he does about his. It’s the results that matter. And working together with our client—like a team—will always get the best results.