Working at a smaller agency, our resources are often deeply involved with clients, discussing their projects and developing their solutions – not just taking the next job from our pipeline.
Embedding resources into a project has a number of advantages and disadvantages. It can add to a project, just as much as it can endanger it.
Weighing the pros and cons and actively defining a degree of embededness will help reap the benefits, without endangering a project or client relationship.
What is an embedded resource?
I use this term to describe an in-house resource like a developer, designer or information architect, who is deeply involved in a project, to the point where they become integral to its ongoing use and development.
At this level, the resource performs a number of tasks normally assigned to a project manager, and can be responsible for taking, estimating and delivering tasks.
- resources become experts on the project and can move effortlessly within the project constraints
- resources can handle low level interactions with the client, avoiding bottlenecks higher up
- resources are often motivated by the added responsibility and tend to take ownership of their solutions
- resources are directly exposed to the client’s needs and consider them throughout
- Clients build a personal relationship with the resource, strengthening their ties to the agency
- a project can become vulnerable to change, since knowledge is isolated with the embedded resource.
- added contact points between client and resources complicate the project overview, potentially confusing the process
Gleaning the advantages – coping with the disadvantages
As you can see, embedding resources has a number of advantages, but it is important not be seduced by informality.
The direct friendship-like relationship with a client must maintain a layer of formality and professionalism to function. Here are a few ways too offset the disadvantages of embedding resources, without losing out on the advantages:
- Put a priority on documentation, so that other resources can take over when necessary.
- Hold frequent (and short) team meetings to keep everyone up to speed.
- Include your embedded resources in meetings with clients and stakeholders when possible.