Why Code Access Matters: Collaborating Through Digital Blueprints

Darrin Mack profile image, in front of building
Cody Davis - Savas Labs

Lemon & Cody Davis

Photo of a pencil and ruler on top of a construction blueprint.


In the world of construction, a blueprint serves as the foundational guide. Just as architects and builders wouldn't dream of erecting a structure without a plan, digital agencies and their developers equally rely on a clear and detailed blueprint. This digital blueprint? The codebase.

When a client entrusts their digital partner with the task of redesign or enhancement, they're really handing over the blueprint (or code) of their existing structure. It's why we often get the question from our clients: "Why do you need code access?"

Understanding the current structure

When assessing an existing website or app, seeing the public view gives us an incomplete picture. The code deployed to the website is often minified (sometimes using a process called “uglification”) to make the code optimized to be read by computers rather than humans. By getting access to the source code (very often a GitHub Repository), we get a lot of insight into the human decisions behind the code, as well as how the pieces are wired together. Without this access, things may be rebuilt unnecessarily, but by having complete access to what’s already there, we can form a plan to build and improve upon that foundation when necessary and start anew when that becomes the better option.

Identifying structural challenges and harnessing opportunities

Just as a physical structure may have outdated electrical wiring, a website may be hampered by outdated or incomplete content systems that hinder the project’s success. Access to backend interfaces, such as WordPress Admin accounts, Hosting Platform accounts, or Amazon Web Service logins, lets us identify these digital “fault lines.”  With access to tools like Google Analytics, we can pinpoint which pages demand attention. Or, by having a peek at AWS metrics, we can discern if a site is making costly requests. Maybe there's an opportunity to cache and save significant costs. By unlocking these layers, we can sculpt strategies that aren't just blind improvements but specific, tailored solutions.

Estimating resources accurately

In the construction world, a detailed blueprint allows for a clearer estimation of required materials and time. Similarly, insight into the code helps our team make accurate predictions about timelines and budgets. Clients often come to us with budget constraints or firm deadlines, and being privy to the code can ensure we can chart a specific iterative path forward to stay within those constraints and increase our confidence in our estimates. The blueprint (code) can also give insights into the needed resources of our team. For instance, seeing heavy SQL queries could indicate a need for database optimization and one of our back-end devs to be available for the project.


Why Your Project Needs a Discovery Phase

Building trust with a shared blueprint

Trust is paramount. The age-old question of "Can I trust YOU with login credentials?" is a valid one. We recognize the weight of the responsibility. It's not just about data; it's a leap toward forging trust. To answer this, we reflect on our track record. At Savas, we have managed, stored, and secured data of varying sensitivity for countless financial, healthcare, higher education, and start-up clients, among others. We also offer up (and enter into) Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) and recommend our clients provide role-specific (read-only) access to ensure their organizations maintain control and security of sensitive or confidential information. Our security practices — from client-specific vaults to the stringent removal of access post-engagement — attest to our commitment to security and confidentiality.

Blueprint confidentiality

As with any architect's drawing, there's a degree of sensitivity attached. Clients should be wary about sharing sensitive data, but not all of them practice good security protocols around the transfer of credentials or password hygiene. Here's how we ensure secure transfer and storage with our clients:

Tools for Secure Sharing: We advocate for the use of encrypted platforms like One Time Secret or 1Password's sharing feature, ensuring credentials remain concealed.

Communication Channels: Plain-text passwords in emails or Slack? A big no. These mediums aren't designed to protect your sensitive data

Account Protocols: Group accounts blur individual responsibilities. We promote individual accounts that can be easily monitored and, if necessary, revoked.

Password Bes Practices: If it's easy to remember, it likely lacks complexity. We encourage strong, unique passwords to fortify your defenses.


Final thoughts

Every masterpiece, whether architectural or digital, starts with a detailed and shared blueprint. It lays the groundwork, highlights potential challenges, and outlines the envisioned transformation or plan. Sharing code access is an invitation to understand this plan and the iterations since its inception. By intertwining the technical nuances, like understanding the role of specific frameworks or the intricacies of database queries, we can help your team understand how much time the current structure has left and pave the way for solutions that stand the test of time.

Shared code access isn't just a technical formality; it's a foundational step towards ensuring both parties are aligned in their overarching vision of the goals for the desired improvements. It streamlines the discovery process, minimizes obstacles, and, ultimately, results in efficiencies in jumpstarting a client-agency relationship.