Any successful company develops a process, over time, which serves them well. In addition to your team, it's your methodology which defines you. Sometimes, though, you have to recognize the value in trying a new approach. If you don't change, you'll never grow.
Working with the client
There are times when clients will tell us that they'd rather not use our process. They have their own, and that is how they prefer to structure their engagement with us. Flexibility is a necessity in business interaction, so we'll work with them. Sometimes we'll pick up valuable lessons which we'll then incorporate into our procedures.
We may use a Waterfall method, or an Agile method, but we generally find that a combination of the two works best for our projects. If a client insists on Agile, however, we will accommodate them. We may feel compelled to point out our opinion on what works best for a particular project, and set forth our reasoning behind it, but the final say belongs to the client.
We had an experience with a client recently which opened a lot of eyes and forced us to make some changes. We'd worked with their lead on the project years before, and he knew our methods. As usual, we set out to create a site map to get a feel for what the final website would look like. We were surprised when he came in with his own site map, which he'd made from a new tool, and it provided a more representative view of the way the site would be laid out. At once you knew how things would be structured on the site. I'm going to adopt that method going forward. Not that there was anything wrong with what we were doing. It worked fine, and certainly would continue to work, but this was better.
The revolution is happening all around us
We are living in a world of such rapid technological growth, with an ever expanding toolbox and discoveries around every corner, that the only way to even begin keeping up is to rely on everybody else to help you get more efficient. Most of these innovations would escape attention if somebody else didn't try them and blog about them. How do you even know how to ask for something which nobody knew they needed?
Free time, while increasingly rare these days, affords our team members the opportunity to dig into new innovations. Professional development ensures that we'll get better. A former employee explored the Lucene-search, about four years ago, and it transformed the way we tackled search. It gave us a much more customized approach to search methods within single-site search operations, with its ability to basically index any type of document in text. It was a transformative discovery.
The entrepreneurial approach
Fundamental changes don't just happen. Assemble all the information at hand and be smart about it. There are so many times when a sales manager, or a project manager, or a lead developer has told me that there is something that they need to fix. Oh, really? How much time, and how much money, is going to be required to make this change? Who is available to implement it? Once you've answered all these questions, then the final question is '- Will we (and, by extension, our clients) be better off? Understanding what the consequences of change will mean is the logical approach.
Making changes to your methodology is, admittedly, not easy. What is easy is becoming set in your ways. Don't be afraid to test the waters, and be an entrepreneur at heart. Sometimes you'll try something looking for one result, only to have a completely unexpected benefit develop. You may spill something on your sneakers and realize that they won't get dirty and water just beads up and rolls off it. You've just discovered Scotchgard.
These are the times we live in. A change is gonna come.