Our team at Brunch Digital usually conducts projects like this using waterfall methodology, but knowing the sensitive time constraints I advocated that we loop our developers in as early as the wireframing stage. Doing so allowed them to weigh in and provide guidance on the functionality updates I was proposing. This gave them more time to plan how they would approach cutup, and helped me feel more confident about the design solution and the time it would take to build. Because I was able to provide the client more accurate forecasting from our dev team, they were able to make more informed decisions when we presented options to them.
After finalizing the wireframes and moving on to design comps, we opted to design two different visual directions for the interface. While the level of effort to create either was nearly equal, having two options for the client to choose from would help us save time on revisions because we could get a better sense of stakeholders' likes and dislikes.
Wanting to duplicate our success we had with the wireframes, my colleague, Tyler Berg, and I decided one direction would push the envelope, and the other would be a bit more conservative: the main difference being one interface was darker and more open (appealing to the stakeholders who wanted the design to look like any other modern web app), the other felt more boxed-in and sturdy (a safer choice that would feel more familiar to older computer users). They chose the former, and also provided some points of feedback around things they liked from the more conservative option that they wanted us to incorporate into their chosen direction. Specifically, things like input styling and the overlay effect that happened when editing a data table. Since we were slightly ahead of schedule because of how smoothly the wireframe phase went, we were able to deliver the enhancement and remain on track.
They went with the latter, saying it would also impress the highest ranking team and that we had the safety solution to fall back on if need be. I could feel the relief on the other end of the phone; even though my team and I were "just subcontractors" they knew we'd treat them as collaborative partners (not know-nothing-clients), and that we understood the intricacies of the system and the politics at play behind it.