How to organize client workshops: helpful tools and practices

Client workshops create the very foundation for a great project and thriving partnership. Find out, which tools and practices you need to organize and hold a successful workshop with your clients.

Laura Schellen

Project Management

von Laura Schellen

How to organize client workshops: helpful tools and practices

Client workshops play a vital part in any project we work on, whether it involves strategy, design, or development. Sitting together with our client to discuss their vision and product, to brainstorm ideas, how to add value for their customers, and to define goals – all these things are best discussed in an environment, where active participation and lively exchange is encouraged.

For this exact reason, two of our team members traveled all the way to LA just recently to connect with a client face-to-face and talk with them about their project in detail. Personally, we are enthralled by holding workshops with our clients. They lay the foundation for a great partnership and help both sides gain a mutual understanding of the product. That is why we at Fintory always recommend our clients to engage in one.

So in this article, we want to give you some insights into the way we plan and hold workshops, and answer some common questions like:

  • What values do workshops create for us and our clients?
  • What tools do you need to hold a successful workshop?
  • How do you organize and perform a workshop?

Since every project is unique, so is the workshop we organize around it. A workshop about developing a client’s website from scratch would of course look different from one, where we discuss new user journeys or a refurbished app design.

That’s why, in the following, we will demonstrate to you how we plan and perform our workshops on the basis of a design project.

The values workshops bring to the table

But before we dive into the best practices for workshops, let’s take a closer look at the values you will gain from organizing or participating in one. Effective workshops help you to:

  • Summarize and verify data the client has provided thus far
  • Offer on the basis of this data first consulting approaches
  • Get the client actively involved in the design process
  • Gain an understanding of the client’s expectations and their vision
  • Develop a product scope, define tangible goals, and schedule delivery
  • Save time and reduce communication hurdles by having everyone directly involved

And beyond that, we get to know the client on a deeper level, and can build a strong, professional relationship with them.

Practical tools for efficient workshops

A great workshop relies on even greater organization: planning and structuring the presentation, collecting input and ideas from team members, setting mutual goals, processing the information evaluating the results – you get the idea. Of course, you can write all that down on a single document. Or, you can be efficient and use reliable, user-friendly tools instead.

Miro – The Online whiteboard tool

Collecting possible features for a patient app with Miro’s Post-It notes.

Workshops thrive off collaboration and lively engagement. That’s why a collaborative whiteboard platform like Miro is something we love to have in our repertoire. Everyone attending the workshop can participate on the whiteboard, which is particularly useful when we want to discuss e.g. some new user flows, or define a target audience.

Defining a target audience and creating first personas.

Notion – the all-in-one project management platform

You may already be using this one, or at least heard about it: Notion is one of the most powerful tools for planning and organization. You can use it to take notes (obviously!), track your progress, organize project details, prepare docs and so much more. And on top of that, Notion is collaborative, meaning everyone, who is granted access to your Notion workspace, can work and edit its content.

Due to its versatility, Notion is our go-to-platform for a multitude of projects – and for organizing a workshop. We use the tool mostly to post-process the acquired information, giving our client a clean overview of the things discussed during the workshop, e.g. the general design requirements of the product in question.

We also implement a kanban board into our notion pages. They have proved to be a great method for organizing and dividing the project into several columns, e.g.:

Ideas – Backlog – In Progress – In Review – Completed

These are the most common classifications. Depending on the type of project, we may also go for different segments. The kanban board facilitates collaboration between team and client, instant feedback, and the setting of priorities for individual components. It neatly reflects the project’s development and offers a rundown of the agreed upon tasks, or tickets, allowing everyone with access to be up to date.

If you are looking for more useful tools to manage your projects, take a look at this article, where we list the best tools for project management.

How we plan and conduct workshops with our clients

Having presented the values of workshops and the tools we use to perform them, let’s dive into the ‘How’ behind it all. Note that each workshop we plan is tailored to our client, as every project is unique in its scope, goals, and features.

While some clients may have an idea they want to realize, others already have a tangible product in their hands that needs to have a new design or features implemented.

1. Preparations

Nevertheless, it is safe to say that every workshop starts with some detailed preparation. Using key information we’ve gained from our client regarding his vision beforehand, we conduct some market research and analyze possible competitors, their products, benefits, and flaws. Based on this information, we set up a rough agenda for our workshop.

2. Expectations

And on every agenda you will be met with a section called ‘Expectations’. This part communicates what issues the workshop seeks to resolve. Possible points of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Introduction and discussion of new features
  • Ideas regarding app optimization
  • Defining user journeys
  • Creating a mood board
  • Gaining a mutual understanding of the ongoing development

At the end of the workshop, we will reflect on the set expectations and define possible further steps.

3. The project in detail

Regardless of whether the product is still in its inception, needs new/updated features, or requires a design revamp – this section functions as the vital part in our workshops and is usually subdivided into several segments, each dealing with a different talking point in more detail.

Brainstorming ideas and discussing each and everyone of them together is one of the most important processes during every segment. Letting the creativity flow freely, we can efficiently collect and evaluate ideas, for example a new design language or additional features, respectively. Engagement is highly encouraged during this segment, and all ideas are recorded via the virtual whiteboard.

If we are looking at features, we always discuss a variety of possible user flows and their respective requirements. Take for example the act of resetting your password. We would talk about every possible step of the user flow, such as:

  • Where is the button for a password reset located, and what does it look like?
  • Will a pop-up window with instructions open after typing the wrong password X times?
  • Will the user get an email with further instructions?
  • Will the user be provided with a one-time password?
  • Will the user be forwarded to another page to reset their password?

Every step will be thoroughly discussed with the group to achieve the best possible outcome. Similarly, if the workshop covers the topic of redesign, we like to compose a mood board as part of the workshop to visualize the style we recommend to our client.

The creation of a mood board can also be done collaboratively with the client. In that case, we usually use Figma, a UI/UX design platform that is great for collaboration.

4. Outcomes

Depending on the type of project, you may aim for different results – but note that these should always be tangible. Possible outcomes of a workshop could include:

  • Formulating an elaborate user feature, so that we can provide a detailed estimate later on
  • Gain an overview of information structure, i.e. the organization of information within a digital product
  • Determining the product scope
  • Conceptualizing a product roadmap
  • Mapping out user flows
  • Formulating user stories
  • Drafting plan for a minimal viable product (MVP)

After concluding the workshop, you can define possible next steps, set deadlines for specific tasks, and schedule a follow-up meeting or additional workshop upon request.

Why meetings are not always enough

Now, after clearing all that up, we want to briefly emphasize why meetings cannot replace a good workshop. Generally, (virtual) meetings are a good and efficient way to exchange information among team members on a wide range of topics. You can update your team members on the state of the project and can discuss possible further steps. Meetings take at best 15 to 90 minutes to hold, and usually the same time to prepare – and therefore, are more time-efficient than workshops.

But what meetings lack, are important factors such as depth, active collaboration and input, brainstorming, as well as the mutual understanding of mission statements, visions, and goals – elements that make up the foundations of every successful project. And these very building blocks are best covered in comprehensive workshops.

To wrap it up

Looking back, it is safe to say that client workshops are immensely practical in every aspect. They strengthen the professional relationship, increase trust and mutual understanding, provide clean overviews, and lead to tangible results. We are really thrilled about workshops. And maybe we were able to pass some of this enthusiasm on to you.

Anyway, thank you for reading this article. We hope you could gain some insight into the way we work with our clients. Want to experience a workshop like this first hand? No Problem! Just contact us and tell us about your project – we are sure we can work something out.

Laura Schellen

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Laura Schellen

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