When it comes to building solutions on Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure my customers always want it all. I am not sure if it has to do with the fact that these platforms allow for easy customization or if it has to do with the realization of technology shortcoming during the assessment process. Whatever it is I am always asked to do it all and get it done fast. Mostly the conversation is about number of resources available and minimum timeframe required to implement the project. There was a time when I thought it was a good problem to have. After all I had a customer who was ready to pay and get things done. However, very quickly I realized that at the onset of the project, defining what needs to be implemented immediately and how it needs to be rolled out is the most critical aspect of solution design and implementation. As both consultants and customers have project success in mind so it should be a relatively easy problem to resolve but after years in consulting I can tell you that it is not.
Customers reach out for solution implementation when they feel a pain or if they identify a process gap or they want to scale or they identify ROI for certain technology solution. Whatever their reason they want to partner with an expert to get them to the finish line. Most partners are really good and they can help customers get there. Mostly customers would pick the one who has the biggest team and many projects under their belt to ensure that they bet on the right horse. Project kick-off, status meetings, implementation phase, sprint backlogs, user stories, user story updates, testing, rollout, user training and many months later they both get to the finish line. Project done on time within certain variance of original budget. Champaign falls from the heaven and everybody goes their merry way. What happens next? Many of us have been there. You get a phone call from Customer’s CTO or CEO and they want to have a meeting. Next project right? Well almost always but that is for another day. You go to the meeting and you learn that users are not happy. Everyone is baffled because all the identified requirements were met so the next step is to talk to end users as it must be a user or set of users who are not following training manuals. Customer brings forth their most tech-savvy user and he/she knows it all. They don’t even need the manual as these power users can do it all without the manual. So you ask them, if they can complete the process and navigate from point A to point B with their eyes closed then, where lies the problem. Well they could do the same thing in less time before this solution was put in place. You explain to them that now it’s all in one system and everybody has visibility into what they are doing. This solution enables reporting that can really benefit senior management. User shows you a manual excel report they did before this new solution was put in place that was shared on SharePoint for executive and others in the organization. So now they have an easier way of generating the report and probably it saves them a little bit of time. You are convinced that this user is resistive to change and you are eagerly waiting to send out an email categorizing these users as outliers who do not adapt well to change. Well you can do that and still stay in business for a long time. You can even grow your business doing that but what you are never going to get is customer delight. You will never have fans who reach out to you with ideas to do more. You will never get emails full of gratitude on how you have made a significant change in someone’s work life. If you don’t want that then you should stop reading here. This blog is not for you and for BOLDEnthusiasts you are an outlier. If you are in consulting for the same reason as us or if you want to be part of this amazing BOLDCommunity then please read-on.
At BOLD project success is not getting the project done under budget and on time. Project success is creating customer delight where customer is everybody involved with the solution and not just the person who cuts the check. Delivering project is not about having a team of consultants who can implement all requirements in the specification but it’s about partnering with customers to form a community that has the same goal of making life easier for people working in their office by providing efficient systems, that are easy to use and fun to work with. At the heart of this philosophy is our underlying principle of “Less is More”. BOLDCommunity understands that running a business is a marathon and not a sprint. We all want to get to the finish line but we have to enjoy the journey to last that long. Take a big business problem and divide it into smaller problems. Identify biggest pain points and then brainstorm till we find small solutions that would fix these small problems. Design for solutions that would improve user experience by atleast 10x. If your big process has 10 small processes that need to be implemented then spend time with your customer and convince them that 10x improvement on one small process is better than no significant improvement across the entire business process. This is where many of us go wrong. The change our solution makes to end-user experience is not always significant and we fail to recognize that. We as consultants need to offer higher ROI for it to be significant at all levels. We at times need to tell our customers that “Less is More”. If we cannot do that than we cannot build solutions that our customers love. In today’s age of autonomous cars (almost there), AI, IoT and machine learning customer expectations are changing and we need to change before we impart a change in customer’s life. We need to embrace “Less is More” or just change the way we measure success.