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How to Improve Client Relationships With Assembla Portfolio

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When you first start developing for a new client, energies are almost as high as expectations. The client loved your pitch, your team is excited about the new project, and your eyeballs have turned into cartoonesque dollar signs.

Enter: reality.

You discover that some important elements were not specced with enough detail. A deadline was missed. The client changed his or her mind about an important feature. The Project Manager did not relay the new priorities to the dev team, who spent a week working on the feature the client no longer wants. Some files were lost in email. Code was revised without a way to roll back. 

Those dollar signs have turned to tears.

Enter: Assembla Portfolio.

With a system like Assembla Portfolio, web development shops finally have a way to infuse transparency into their workflow and improve relationships with their clients with organized communications, agile or continuous releases, and professional delivery of code and other assets.

In this tutorial, I'll walk you through the seven steps you need to take to get started with creating a smoother web development workflow using Assembla.

Step 1: Set Up Your Workspace

The first step is to set up a workspace for your project in Assembla. Your workspace is a home for the project and will house the team, the tasks, the code, the designs, the conversations, and more.

You may have a workspace for “Client A’s website development” (and in Assembla Portfolio, you will also have a way to track, monitor, and report on all of your workspaces in a portfolio-level view).

Step 2: Create Tickets

Each ticket is a task that needs to be assigned, developed, and completed.

You may have a ticket for “buy a domain name” and another for “produce video content". Your tickets keep your work organized and can be prioritized (and, in most case, re-prioritized again and again), assigned to team members, and tracked. 

Ticket for Home Slider design in Assembla

Step 3: Invite Collaborators

Invite the developers, designers, project managers, and client.

With the team within the workspace, all conversations are centralized, workflows and expectations are managed proactively, code and deliverables are tracked, and all collaborators are invested in the quality and speed of the assets produced. 

With the client regularly engaged, each task’s priority and details can be clarified in real time so that the team focuses on what is important to the client. When there is a need for clarification or questions arise, clients can collaborate directly with the dev or designer who is working on the project, saving the time of a PM/Account Manager and the frustration that can be caused by indirect communication.

Assembla collaboration screen showing tasks to be done

Step 4: Commit Code Into Your Repositories

Whether you and your team prefer Git, Subversion, or Perforce, continue working the way you like. Assembla Portfolio is built with the world's best Subversion and feature-rich Git hosting, all tightly integrated with your tasks. 

You can access and share code instantly and clearly visualize what has changed with a syntax highlighted changeset browser with inline code commenting. For clients, you can render files as web pages with images, CSS, and JS.

Screenshot of code being committed to a repository in Assembla

Contributors can submit code from a repository branch or fork. Reviewers can pull and test changes, view changesets and affected files, submit a new version, vote on the request, and ultimately merge or reject the request—all from one simple UI.

Review page in Assembla code repository

It is easy to compare revisions, merge code, and maintain a sustainable codebase. With the click of a button, devs can perform traceable deployments and link them to tickets (and client billing).

Step 5: Work When You Work

Your Assembla Portfolio is always on—so that you don’t need to be.

Over a million distributed team members all over the world use this tool to work where and when they work. The conversation is ongoing with easily searchable @mentions, tickets, messages, wikis, and code commits—everything is in writing, and work progresses all the time.

You are never out of touch, time differences no longer cause delays, and miscommunication due to cultural gaps ceases.

Deadlines are adhered to and trust is built with clients.  

You can work with the best talent and be hired by any client—no matter where they are located.

Step 6: Surpass Client Expectations

With a transparent and agile process, clients’ needs always remain at the forefront. Clients participate in prioritization, provide feedback during the development process, and approve each task’s completion. By giving them the visibility they need, you ensure that clients are never surprised when their bill comes, as it is linked to the tasks they have approved throughout the month. 

Furthermore, the transparent workflow gives collaborators the information they need when they need it. Offshore or in-house, developers and designers begin to understand the interdependence of the work on business decisions and no longer feel as if their brilliance is being thwarted.

With this level of transparency, accuracy, and clarity, customer referrals are all but guaranteed.

eWay Corp is a web development shop that uses Assembla Portfolio. Brianne Larson of Strategic America is one of eWay’s clients.

Brianne Larson of Strategic America
Brianne Larson of Strategic America

Larson says: 

"With eWay Corp's transparent workflow in Assembla, we feel like we are always in the know about our projects. We feel more confident in assigning eWay Corp more work now that things are easy to track. With the Assembla platform, the collaboration is quicker and easier, we get more work done and require fewer changes. And we are happy to have a long-term partner in eWay Corp who really believes in delivering exceptional customer service using the best team, tools and practices."

The Final Step

These first six steps can be taken during a free 7-day trial of Assembla Portfolio. The final step is a big one that may take some more time. Fortunately, the product’s pricing is affordable and straightforward. All tools and features are included for only $10 per user per month.

Assembla pricing description

As client relationships strengthen, web development shops will start transitioning their business model from one that is project-based (like “create a new website”) to one that is an ongoing partnership based on agile (or continuous) delivery of tasks that are important to the client.

With the process control and client collaboration made possible with Assembla Portfolio, those dollar-sign-turned-tears in your eyeballs will soon be filled with hearts of client love (along with some coveted dollar signs too).

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