3D Roadmapping Sessions: 3D workflow disrupted...

by Dimitri Bobkov

Couple of months ago, my dream client came knocking.They’re an established architectural agency and they were looking for 3D visualization partner. They wanted to work with me on a large set of private house models, multi-month project — and it was a perfect fit for the services I'm offering. I was ecstatic. Everything felt great. The client saw value in my services and I wanted to work with them.

As a first step, I proposed a small kickoff project — a 3D Roadmapping Session — to review the outcomes they were looking to achieve and test working together. We scheduled the meeting for later that week.

Then, on the day of the meeting, less than an hour before we were supposed to start, I received an email from them, telling me that they needed to cancel. They wouldn’t be able to afford the project we were discussing or the fee for the 3D Roadmapping Session. They had, literally, no money in the bank.

Was I disappointed?

No. Because when they canceled that meeting, I could see how much time I would have invested in their project before I learned that they couldn’t afford to work with me. I mean, think about it:

  • We would have gone through a discovery meeting (1-2 hours, unpaid)
  • I would have reviewed their needs, their goals, their architectural blueprints and all other materials and put together a proposal (2-3 days, unpaid)
  • We would have had a second meeting to review the proposal and decide if we wanted to move forward (1-2 hours, unpaid)

And then and only then I would have learned that we wouldn’t be working together.

In that moment, I was so glad I had started our relationship off with the 3D Roadmapping Session.

Wait, so what is a 3D Roadmapping Session?

A Roadmapping Session is a strategic, outcome focused meeting between me and you where I review the intended outcomes for the project, set expectations for what success looks like, and identify any potential barriers to achieving success. At a high level, I'm breaking down the parts of the project and identifying the easiest, most graceful way from where the client(you) currently is to where you want to be.

As the first part of every project I work on, you and I start off with a meeting where we develop a shared understanding of your goals for the project, define what success looks like to you, and identify the different parts of the project.

There are three major benefits to using 3D Roadmapping Sessions early on:

  • Before I formally start the project, I understand the business goals behind the project and what your envisions as success.
  • If your expectations are out of scope for the investment you’re willing to make, I can re-calibrate your expectations to match your investment.
  • I reclaim the unpaid time that I'm investing in discovering your needs and writing proposals.

Do I feel defeated after writing yet another proposal — only to have the client turn it down?

For some consultants, the sales funnel leading into a project can look like this:

  • First contact with the lead
  • Needs Assessment / Qualification
  • Discovery
  • Proposal Writing
  • Client’s Go/No-Go Decision
  • Start Paid Work

That can be a lot of time to invest into a project before I start getting paid. Even if I'm qualifying the client at the start of the project, disclosing my rates, and only moving forward with high value prospects, I can be investing day or two or even more in case of larger 3D projects before I start getting paid.

From your side of the table, when I start off the relationship with a 3D Roadmapping Session, you are able to begin your relationship with me at a much lower price tag. Instead of starting off with, say, a $5,000 project, a more affordable 3D Roadmapping Session gives you an opportunity to see me demonstrate my expertise and insight, review the quality of my work, and experience my method of communication. All factors that can lower the risk you perceive in working with me.

As an end product of the 3D Roadmapping Session, you receive a report that breaks down exactly what you want to achieve, what success looks like for your business, where you currently are, and the steps that you’ll need to take to move forward with this project.

If either me or you decide, after the 3D Roadmapping Session, that I'm not the right fit for each other, you will have an asset (the 3D Roadmapping Session Report) that you’ll be able to bring to the table with the next consultant you work with to better define the outcomes you’re targeting with the project.

Example of 3D Roadmapping Session Report, simplified...

Prehistory

One of my clients reached out to me with another project. He had a couple of blueprints of a future office building and he wanted to know the price for a couple of 3D renders.

Seems to me pretty easy to calculate the price for such project, but during our 3D Roadmapping Session I found out what client really needs is:

  • Visualization how the new Business Center look like
  • Visualization how the existing site (existing buildings), new Business Center and enlarged parking area will run together - logistics and street view
  • Visualization how people can find the site – nearby objects
  • Would be good to add additional future buildings volumes for the overview
  • Visualization of logistics inside the building - lobby, temporarily rooms and dinery and other stuff

These materials must help to speed up the sales (cash income) and to increase the potential value of future Business Center. Most people don’t have imagination, that's why we have to create clear picture/visualization that everybody understands what will be there, how it fits & runs in a big picture and what kind of benefit it gives if they would have their premises exactly at client’s site. A client doesn't want his site to be comparable to other older sites…

So as you can see – now we are facing not a small project with a couple of 3D renders, but a rather big project with specific goals…

3D roadmapping session steps

So what our team did during 3D roadmap sessions – yep, this is not one meeting, but the whole bunch of them.

Target audience

We identified the target audience for our client – who will be a consumer of 3D renders. Based on results we got, we decided lighting scheme for future renders:

  • Daylight: because it’s B2B project and it’s used daily based
  • Night shots: because in a country client from they have quite long dark period (Winter time). We have to show how the business runs with additional lighting

Photo-montage

Next, to save client’s budget and fulfill his goals (show nearby objects) – we decided that best case would be to make photo-montage. We helped the client to decide which photos suit best.

Exterior camera locations

Next, we did quick sketches of future camera locations and showed what objects will be visible on renders:

  • We made 4 bird view sketches
  • We made 2 human height daylight sketches
  • We made 2 human height sketches at night time

Of course, there were couple of changes from client side about camera positions.

Colors & materials

Next, we checked blueprints and found out that colors and materials are missing. We wrote down every missing part and got our answers from architects.

Landscape

After seeing the whole picture, client understood, that landscape plan should be changed, so development stopped until we got correct landscape plan with specific vegetation provided by city government.

Interior camera locations

Next, we did 5 sketches of interiors where client noted that some interiors not what he really wanted, that he noticed this only seeing our sketches in 3D. So development stopped again until architects applied appropriate changes.

Interior design

What client totally forgot is – 3D visualization is NOT a design creation. Before you can start visualizing your interiors – you must know what exactly should be done – interior design guidelines must be done upfront.

That's why we spend quite a lot of time with a client figuring out what kind of design style will be suitable for future Business Center:

  • Overall style
  • Color style
  • Furniture style
  • Small details and etc…

Finish

Only after finishing all above steps we were ready to start visualizing this project. And only now it was possible to set up a fixed price.

At this point client has two options – apply all insights we provided to him with another 3D vendor if our closing price is not suitable for him, or – continue cooperation taking the fact that now he knows:

  • How our workflow built
  • How communication works
  • What expect from us
  • What the result of our work would look like

Let’s not forget that all risks above were dispelled for the fraction of a final project price. I think it’s not so bad situation if you are just starting cooperation with a new partner…