In the 20 years weve been in business, weve helped hundreds of companies improve their productivity with the apps we sell. But the ones that stick out in my mind are not the ones who were helped, but the few who failed. I dont like failure, and I take each loss of a client personally. Thats why we follow these three laws for success:
- Law No. 1: The consultant must communicate directly and often with the projects owner, and the projects owner must use the delivered product as often as his subordinates. The owner is the one held accountable by his boss, generally the CEO. Communication must always be approved before the project starts, which means confirming with the owner that youll be dropping by his office to give frequent updates, or at the very least communicating by e-mail or phone.
- Law No. 2: Mission-critical data must be kept in this system, or the system will not be used. On a recent CRM case, the project team insisted that certain order-entry information be entered first in the CRM database and then that information would be integrated with the accounting application. Guess what? The application was not considered to be an important part of the employees day.
- Law No. 3: There must be an internal support function at a client to serve the employees, and this function can be supported by an outside consultant. All the products we sell require support. And there is nothing worse for a user than to be stuck on hold, talking to someone whos clueless about their application. When something goes wrong, or a question arises, or basic training is required, its critical that these questions go to someone internal at the company. If this designated support person still needs help, they can call the vendor or consultant for help or research the issue. Over time, this saves the company significant time and money.
Remember: When one of the laws gets broken and a project blows up, the consultant will still get blamed!
Gene Marks company, Demand Systems Inc., is a Philadelphia-based consultancy and integrator of CRM and financial applications.