What Is “Project First?”


The Project First Model

The project first model is a simple and powerful way of leading a project. It challenges the traditional agency operational model by allowing the project to define what, who, and how we action. With our model, Alpha Alias defines the project first, then select specialists who will work on it and how that work will be done.  

The History Of ‘Project First’

My name is Sam Roon. My life in digital started in 1994 when I wanted to learn how to change colors using the advanced editor on my Geocities page. (Am I revealing my age if I say I was changing colors on tables before divs were around?) Fast forward 20 years and I find myself in operational leadership roles helping clients change colors (among other things) on business-critical web applications.

I can honestly say I never thought of my approach to client work as a model. It was only when creating Alpha Alias that I first learned my way of working is completely different from my colleagues and competition. My forward momentum in this industry is directly related to my fundamentally different way of thinking. And now I’ve molded this idea into a unique operational model.

My way of working starts by thinking from my client’s perspective. I approach projects as if they are my own and assess what needs to be done based on the business goals. Thinking as a client, I want the best possible team to create the best possible product at the best possible price. And so that is where I began forming the idea of how Alpha Alias would operate.

While building the operational model for Alpha Alias I thought for a long time about what would provide the most value to my clients. The ideal situation would be to hire people who, at an expert level, cover the entire spectrum of digital expertise. This would allow me to be project first in every way, and I could suggest anything to clients and be able to deliver it at an expert level.

As a startup, that idea is more than impossible for all the reasons you thought of when you were reading it. An agency with several million euros in turnover would also find it nearly impossible. And this is where the inspiration for the Alpha Alias “project first” business model came from.

How It Happened

How Alpha Alias Became Truly Project First

To be truly project first an agency needs to allow a project to define what is needed without the looming knowledge that you can’t do everything, or that it needs to fit into some proprietary company requirement. Project first means that If a project needs something, it will get done in the best way possible, period.

Alpha Alias solves the challenge of hiring every expertise in the digital space by not hiring anyone at all (besides our operational experts, of course).

Our operational model includes pre-vetted partnerships with highly talented design agencies, development houses, analytics teams, marketing managers, and so on. By building a substantial network of partners, we can have 2 of everything, while only paying for exactly what we need, when we need it.

By having every digital expertise possible at our disposal, Alpha Alias can be truly project first.

How ‘Project First’ Is Different From Traditional Digital Agency Thinking

Alpha Alias is different from the classic ways of digital operations. Traditional agencies try to solve challenges with the products or productized services they’ve created, or whatever they have the ability to create with the team they currently employ. Alpha Alias solves challenges by crafting the best possible solution and allowing the solution to guide how we take action.

Being ‘project first’ is different from how traditional agencies think because a project first agency will prioritize every step of the process based on what is best for the project. Traditional agencies are fundamentally ‘agency first’ because they already have proprietary products, teams to build those products, and processes to support their teams in building those products. You can be either ‘project first’, or ‘agency first’, but you can’t be both.

An agency can spend time coming up with ways to optimize a product and provide more value by thinking without limitations. Or they can get stuck trying to fit every unique challenge into the one thing their agency does. I know which path I prefer, and it’s called “Project First.”

Final Thoughts On The ‘Project First’ Model

I love ideology so bear with me on this. Imagine a blank piece of paper and a pen sitting on a desk. That is the project plan in the project first model before the first planning meeting. There are no predefined systems written down and no product or service for a need you haven’t asked for. There’s just a page with unlimited possibilities yet to be written.

There are a few reasons I am transparent about the ‘Project First’ model. I want to share it with my competitors so they can see how Alpha Alias is different from them. I want to share it with potential clients so they can learn how we will instantly bring more value just by the way we think. I want to share it with future employees so they can gain perspective on our way of doing things and how creative they’ll get to be in their roles.

Being project-first is a simple and powerful way of operating that has a meaningful impact on the solutions we provide. Compare Alpha Alias with a traditional agency and you’ll find a lot more value in working with people who think ‘project first’.

Want to learn how we can apply the project first model for you? Contact us.

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