As project delivery consultants we want our customers to be successful. However, at some point every consultant begins to realize that customers can sometimes be their own worst enemies. In fact, during our training we usually discuss the legitimate claim that the customer's engagement might well be a project's largest indicator of a project's ability to be successful. To that end, we have developed a checklist of items that customers should consider in order to make sure they are not harpooning their own chances of success.
Why do customers rebuild the same business process with new technologies?
More than 80% of the customers we have spoken to about their completed projects say that they have received less than 75% of their initial vision at the end of the first project. Almost 25% say that they received 50% or less. Yet, more than 90% say that the project was worth the money they spent. Why?
The principle I got most wrong in the Seven Principles book was that of "Principle #3: Manage Expectations". Early into our our experiment of running a consulting firm based on the principles, I asked a group of struggling project managers, "Are we not managing expectations?" I didn't need a reply, the blank look on their faces told the story. While they knew the intent of managing expectation, they had no idea how to put it into action, and to be honest, neither did I.
If consultants and implementation teams cared about customer success, we'd remove the idea of "on time and on budget" as a project's primary measure of success! By adopting it, we've enslaved ourselves to the project's budget and time constraints rather than resolving the customer's business challenges.
Field-based project teams translate "on time and on budget" into behaviors that we know lead to bad project outcomes, not success. When the focus is "on time", they hurry to make a deadline despite the deliverable's questionable quality. A focus "on budget", creates sensitivity around change which, as we discover more about the project's true challenges, is the precise thing we need to adjust our course accordingly.
In an industry based solely on the transformation of customer dreams into business reality, we must have something better.
Too many projects. Not enough resources. High attrition. Low morale and low reputation both inside and outside of the company. While the effects of the professional services downward spiral are easy to identify, it’s the root causes that are difficult to see. Attempts to improve resource management or project oversight help, but they continue to mask the real issues of operational inefficiency in our basic customer-facing delivery models.
This week, I was asked a great question during a training session, “What do you do if you start a project and the customer already has a negative opinion of you?”
On this week’s Rethinking Professional Services, we discussed Rethinking Knowledge Management. My passion for this topic is driven by a recognition that it is frequently undervalued. Many services teams do not realize that just like a product strives to create functional differentiation, professional services teams must also do the same.
While writing The Seven Principles of Professional Services, I intended to explain the value customers see in paying for professional services by developing an illustrative equation.
Professional Services Value (PSV) = Knowledge + Experience + Skills
While for illustrative purposes only, the equation surprisingly identified some interesting facts about the use of “Knowledge” as an asset in professional services.
I can’t remember a time where I wasn’t being asked to “package” services. On last week’s Rethinking Professional Services, we harnessed successful and unsuccessful experiences to Rethink Packaged Services. Below, is a set of rules that can be applied to help push the chances of success in our favor.
This week on Rethinking Professional Services we continued our focus on customer-facing negotiations. One specific scenario, that of placing projects “on hold”, was directly linked to an eventual decrease in billable utilization and employee satisfaction. In this article I review the slippery slope that gets us into this situation as well as a strategy for getting out of it for good.
Finding the Win-Win in ALL Customer-Facing Situations
This week on Rethinking Professional Services we tackled Rethinking Customer Negotiations (watch replay). In doing so I proposed a number of tricky customer-specific situations such as fixed fee versus time and materials, design stage sign- off and user acceptance. While preparing for the webinar I discovered something interesting.