Quick: what’s something you’re 100% sure of?Research

Most of the things we’re 100% sure of are somehow related to nature: the sun’s gonna come up in the morning, gravity’s not going to magically switch off, and it’s not going to literally rain cats and dogs. Very few of the things we’re 100% sure of have to do with people. No matter how secure you think you are in your job, your relationship, or your favorite lunch spot, if there are people involved, there’s a chance it’s not going to be there tomorrow.

When it comes to dealing with people, we deal with a lot of assumptions. This is, basically, so we don’t go insane thinking about all the possibilities. But when it comes time to launch that new website, app, or project, you can’t afford to assume.

That’s why you need research.

As you go to start your next project, here are three groups of people you need to talk to as you’re starting your planning process.

1. The Head Honchos.

Whether you’re doing a project internally or for a client, it’s important to get buy-in from the highest level possible. Sometimes, that’s a literal buy-in: it’s the time and money you need to get the project done. Getting your boss to write a check isn’t enough, though. More often than not that check comes with expectations for what the project is going to look like, how it’s going to function, and what it’s going to take to deem the work a success at the end.

Getting that input from the decision makers early in the process helps you make sure the project’s heading in a direction that’s going to wind up developing trust down the road.

2. The Internal Teams.

Whenever you’re working on a new project, especially if you’re working on something for a client, you might come across people who think they could be handling the project on their own. (If you’re working internally, more often than not this could be someone who wishes they’d been picked for the project rather than you.) It’s easy to dismiss any ideas that come from this group, but there are a couple of reasons you should go out of your way to figure out what’s on their minds. First off, they likely have more familiarity with the company and the systems already in place. Secondly, chances are they actually have some really good ideas that, even if you don’t take them as-is, can really help the final product. Finally (and maybe most importantly), failure to get input from this group early in the process can leave them wanting to bury your work after you’re gone, no matter how good it is. Unless you’re planning on being there to defend yourself every day, it’s best to get as many people on your team as possible.

3. The End Users.

Depending on the project, your end user might be developers within your own company, employees in a client’s shop, or consumers out in the marketplace. Whatever their business cards say, if this group isn’t a fan of the final product, it’s going to be hard to say it’s a success. By bringing the end user into the discussion early on, you can make sure you’re developing a product that will see the levels of adoption you’re looking for. Keeping the end users out of the development process means you’re risking a finished product that you love, but never gets used.

There are a lot of different ways you can go about getting input and buy-in from these important groups at the start of a process. At Aptera, we use a discovery process that’s designed to make sure our clients wind up with a product that meets their needs and comes in on time and on budget. (For more on our discovery process, watch this interview with Aptera’s President and CEO TK Herman and our Creative Director C. Ray Harvey.)

When you assume that you know what a project needs without doing any digging, you’re not just risking the success of your project, you’re risking the reputation of your team and organization. Whatever method works for you, engaging in research before a project starts increases the likelihood that your project will be deemed a success after it’s done.