AGENCY AS A SOFTWARE COMPANY A.K.A AGENCIES KE PANGEDrupal Agency Or A Software Company?IntroductionIn today’s times when we are spoiled with choices (and Drupal can rightly be blamed), how do the development agencies make a mark when they are expected to play both the role of a development agency and a creative firm?With time Drupal is facing new challenges increasingly due to the complexity of demands. While there are many questions, the one that I truly feel is quintessential to Drupal’s future is – Are we, as a Drupal development agency, ready to accept the changing roles and responsibilities and adapt (both Drupal and us) with the changing times?In this blog let us cover the roles, responsibilities and challenges we as a Drupal development agency face and how we can achieve them.Understand The Scope With DrupalAs I try to change the facebook tag from a computer software to a web development agency, I find it hard to do so. Is it easy to identify Drupal with a mere software?Associating Drupal with ‘CMS’ is restricting the values and opportunities it can provide in terms of customization and innovation and so I prefer calling Drupal a development platform. It is very important for development agencies to realize the potential of Drupal before selling it as a CMS solution in the market. Working with Drupal, I have realized that the development procedure can be speeden up with right set of modules and distributions and of course the right skill set. Also understanding the demands and then working on the solution with Drupal is so much fun. (One example where we used Drupal)Make Your ChecklistBefore setting out to your client with a budget it is important for you as an agency to cover all the important tasks, failures, and other plausible possibilities. At the start of the project it is important to make an estimation of all the cost and requirements. This requires you to get a primary research done which only helps you handle your client better.This can be handled as a separate initial project also with smaller initial cost giving you better results in terms of compatibility with the client and clear communication with what is expected from you as a development agency.Remember The UserAs the project is initiated the third and the most important stakeholder is often ignored in the haste of estimation and execution. Although the grass seems greener on the other side, without including the perspective of the user the plan might flop. And often, the user is resigned to take a back seat being offered less than an optimal experience. Content editing comes as a saviour here with the ability to get into the site and make a change on their own terms. Drupal’s uniqueness lies in its flexibility and yet powerful enough to develop an optimal experience given proper time and resources. And after all this most of the agencies are not equipped well to develop an optimal user experience.To bring about the changes and know what a user might expect from, say an educational site, it is important that a prototype is given to the client for a short stint to use it and recognize the good and bad user experience and filter out the bad part.Setting The Performance TargetFor web presence one of the most important thing to a user would be how long it takes for a page to show up. It is one of the most critical aspect even from the perspective of design with regard to user engagement. As mobile usage is slowly increasing in every part of the world, it is important for the developer to keep a track of the speed of the page.It is crucial for the agency to set a ‘Performance Target’ and keep a track of the improvement from the existing site. This way they can take charge of the performance and keep the site faster for a typical user while also making it a crucial benchmark by which further decisions are made.Cache The ContentThe basic need for a CMS arises because the server wants to publish the data immediately reflecting the changes seen in the website. For this, the site needs to be exceptionally fast. Content caching, also called storing ‘pre-rendered’ page content is often put in line to ensure speedy response from the server. A common practice in large scale applications to provide faster response to the user. Drupal 8 provides for the cache with its “cache tag” feature. It caches the content and pages automatically when a new content is published. Without identifying the importance of cache the project may take a back seat as it might hit the performance of the site.User TrainingTo avoid the risk of being branded “greedy”, agencies keep the concept of “User training” at bay. Part of this is because is because of lack of resources client is willing to pay. Often missed as a concept even in manual, it requires training the daily Drupal CMS user. Because of Drupal’s great customization, the admin needs to be trained to use and fix daily problems(if and when they arise). The user should be trained about the software they use to manage the website. Even though the concept of admin and roles is quite precise and clear in Drupal user should be informed about all the possibilities with Drupal. Maintenance- Not An AfterthoughtMaintenance, often comes as an afterthought, which poses challenges in the future. To get the things easy, companies often do not accommodate a maintenance and support team. Drupal might comes as a strong CMS but if its versions and modules are not updated regularly its sites are vulnerable to hack. The good part in this is that Development Agencies are offering low cost solutions and full service Drupal maintenance programs.Keeping in mind the concept of ‘long term relationship’ with client and success with Drupal, Development Agencies are coming up with new options and innovations, and giving a fight to other CMS counterparts. But it’s a long way ahead. The challenge, however, is to keep moving forward while identifying the changes, and changing roles and responsibilities. The concept of ‘what is expected’ from a Development agency keeps changing and just like Drupal, agencies need to be flexible utilizing the resources and channelizing what all the Drupal offers.__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________(((((Ans. and how ready are we are to migrate and accept our new roles given to us by the complexity of time and demand driven market?We are partially ready and as a community we don’t have any set standards to give a tough fight to other CMSs. We have resources but we don’t channelize them the way they do. We have the labor (probably one of the largest-106,650 users actively contributing) but we do not have the contributed support we need. Individual businesses have taken over the Dev Agencies instead of contribution to the community.Certain practices needs to be changed and brought into light to let everyone overcome it. No set standardized training to the dev agencies to bring out standard measures and strategies. Least focus on “sustainable development” of the product.So what will be our strategy? Need to bring out standard programs and give training to the dev agencies as well as the companies using Drupal. Because there is no user training, CMS users don’t know how to utilize Drupal to their benefit if not to its potential.Drupal can be adapted but how do we utilize its flexibility depends on the Dev Agency.)))With each passing year Drupal seems to be evolving and spreading its wings across different industries. It is becoming an option of choice because of its ability to deliver solutions across different verticals. Although Drupal can be used as a web application framework, to add value to your enterprise, it is seldom used like one.