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This week Mint started offering technical audits as a service. It got me thinking about what agencies like Mint offer their clients and why.

Services

Go to the website of any company in our space and you’ll see a list of services or offerings that overlap but are not precisely the same. You’ll see some common language like “digital transformation”, “digital strategy”, “digital product development”, “rapid prototyping”, “discovery and validation”.

Ours say “Ventures” “Digital Transformation” and “Sprints”. In 2018 we added “Hiring the Mint Way”. I must say I don’t know whether these adequately cover what we do and I don’t know whether they are better or worse than our competitors.

That’s a bit of a problem with our industry in general - there are low barriers to entry. To be a digital transformation consultant or a software engineer, you just have to say that that’s what you are. And then you’re up and running. This seems broken to me, salesmanship shouldn’t trump competence but all too often it probably does.

I don’t really want to work at a company that makes this problem worse so how and when does Mint add a new service to its suite of offerings? Here is the path that led us to add technical audits:

  1. Clients approached us asking for technical audits. They didn’t always use the phrase “technical audit” but that’s fundamentally what they were asking for. The demand was not generated by us;
  2. We performed them. We have the competence required to help;
  3. Our clients were delighted with the outcome. We delivered a result;
  4. We found the audits to be particularly value-added. Lots of consultants will do what a client asks, e.g. “Build a website”, “Fix a bug”, “Make this secure,” but we find the most value is added when you are able to ask your clients the hard questions. Our job is not to make decisions for our clients but to make sure they have considered the right questions armed with the right information.

In order for a service to become a thing, the path should look like this:

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If one of these four elements is missing then I would question whether the agency or consultancy should be offering that service for money. If you’re a potential client of an agency you should be able to interrogate these before choosing who to work with. Good agencies should have high degrees of competence with measurable results that have demonstrably increased value for their clients.

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