It’s interesting to watch how technology impacts the world of business and changes the interactions between buyer and seller. In days of old, customers needed the vendor to provide the total picture and could, through a sales process, guide the client to the product or solution they desired.
Today, 60% or more of the buying decision and research is done before the vendor might even know the client is interested. The process of selling has become more complex and yet at the same time more complex.
It’s more simple because the client in theory is more informed, but more complex if the thread followed by the client takes them in a direction they should not have gone.
We have observed the clients we advise go through the awful process of trying to learn how to become IT consultants because the IT industry as a whole continues to show clients the technology and expect the client to understand the implications they deliver.
Now I like a good hammer and a tool that can be purchased from Bunnings, but that doesn’t mean I can build a house. I don’t know the design requirements. I don’t know the tricks and methods to ensure a solid build. OI don’t know what and why I should use key materials so the build lasts.
Why then do we, the IT industry expect the clients to understand the issues involved in business deployments ?
IT projects like all specialist projects are structured like icebergs. The client is aware of their above the water issues and they become the focus of their attention. Problem is, there are a considerable list of below the water issues that also need to be addressed.
The observation is that client feel they somehow need to understand all aspects of the whole solution which is not possible unless the client hires the same staff as the vendor delivers, doubling project costs and often making the project non viable.
Further still, we have noted over the last 21 years, that the documentation provided to clients is not understood by the clients and the remifications in the documents is not clear until too later.
So the client is faced with material they don’t understand, an execution model they are uncertain of and an outcome they hope to achieve. Add to that, internal execution staff already in role overload who are the very people providing the brief to the vendor and there is a recipe to disaster.
So, when creating a project, we suggest the following method to successfully deliver your next business solution:
1. Focus on what business outcomes you want described in business terms.
A. I need to see my sales pipeline anytime I need it broken by by product range, period or sales person.
B. I need to see which clients haven’t been visited within the guidelines agreed.
C. I need to see which clients have changed their buying patterns and tell me when we last visited face to face.
2. Ensure that we selecting you next partner, that the conversation you are having is about business outcomes and how the technology supports achieving it.
Is your partner discussing outcomes or tasks ? Outcomes you needs, tasks are not.
3. Is your partner advising you based on experience or are they just documenting your requirements.
If you are the only one documenting the solution, you have the wrong partner. Your partner should add value to the design process based on years of experience to help you develop the right solution.
4. Look closely at the platform or solution you are buying. Be very careful of the false economy. There are so many solutions available out in the market that are cheap. Like in any other industry, cheap will get you cheap. What is cheap to buy will cost you in people.
Cheap often does an amount of the job but that last 20% is a killer. It fails.
Think about the duty time of the solution and make sure it’s aligned feature wise with your needs, then double it. Why double ? Well you will get busy with other activities and you won’t change it because it’s working (kind of) so you will get to it sometime.
So when costing a solution, cost of the action cost of the solution and the people cost to run it. Those manual costs add up really quickly committing a staff member to keep it running, then cheap became expensive and recurring.
In following posts, we will comment on more ways to keep the desired level of control and execute a project safely.