Any B2B organisation looking to service customers or clients in multiple countries will, at some stage, have to make the decision about where the team servicing those clients will be based.
For development agency, Degree 53, that decision has been made. The team works from a single central office in Manchester, UK, while delivering websites, mobile applications, user testing, UX consultancy and design services for clients all over the UK and USA.
So how does this work for Degree 53 in practice and is it something proving effective for the business and its clients? We hear from Commercial Director, Richard Bannister on the subject.
At Degree 53 we’re lucky to work with an international portfolio of clients and, I think, even luckier to do so from a single base in a great city in the UK. All of our team works from Manchester – that’s everyone from our Managing Director, project managers, internal marketing team, designers and developers. They’re all here. And that’s great from a service delivery perspective. Everyone involved in a project is in the same place and that makes it much easier to get everyone on the same page, keep up to date with progress and address any complexities. That’s so much easier when you have a team able to meet face to face at the drop of a hat.
Of course, the limitation of having the delivery team in Manchester while working on projects for clients in, let’s say, the USA, is that the same drop-of-a-hat meetings can’t be achieved between our team and that client. There are a few ways we overcome this:
- The commercial team travels. Myself and our Managing Director in particular travel to meet with clients and prospects all over Europe and the USA. That’s essential. With a delivery team in one location, you need some key commercial people in the team who are flexible and travel as needed
- We have tight onboarding processes. Specifications are laid out in the early days and we have good, solid process throughout our projects to ensure the team knows exactly what it’s delivering and the client knows exactly where we’re at in the plan at any given time. Process is key to achieving this and we’re proud of ours
- We use technology to communicate. In the age of video conferencing from your mobile phone, I think you can argue that the world is as small as it has ever been. If we need unplanned catch ups with our clients, we can use video conferencing technology to speak face to face and we take full advantage of that. Of course, it’s not the same as being in the same room, but it’s pretty close.
Ultimately, businesses like ours have a decision to make. You either split a team up so you can have teams closer to clients or you keep the delivery team in a single place and have individuals within the company who travel to clients. We opted for the former. I believe it’s much more important for a delivery team to work in the same space for project collaboration than it is for the client to be geographically close to the delivery team.
Having one team in a single location has more benefits than simply collaborating too:
- You can build a reputation locally within a single place much more effectively than you can in several different ones and these reputations are vital to attracting talent in your area
- Having a single location means you get the feeling of one big team rather than several smaller fragmented ones across various locations. The bigger single team gives us access to more different skillsets and creative ideas than if we had fewer people at more different sites. For us, we could feasibly have a couple of developers and project managers based in the USA, of course, and supplement with any additional resource needed from Manchester. But it would feel fragmented and those people would feel like a slightly separate team.
It’s working out well for us and allowing us both the ability to win great contracts overseas and to simultaneously maintain incredibly high standards of output.
Of course, our overseas client wins may be slower than our domestic ones at times. But it’s not stopping us developing our international work and we’re absolutely on target to achieve our business goals. So for the time being, a single location is working out really well for Degree 53.