In The Grand Scheme of Things, Methods Matter

It's hard for any company to resist touting its services and what it can do-and understandably so.

Its hard for any company to resist touting its services and what it can do—and understandably so. When youve built up a skill set, you want your clients, partners and competitors to know about it. When it comes to companies that facilitate e-business, however, a shift in emphasis is needed. More attention has to be given to how these services are provided, as well. In short, what method—if any—guides their use?

A formal methodology provides a guide for thorough, consistent development efforts. It establishes protocol for actions such as establishing client input and feedback, calculating risks and developing contingency plans, and continuously checks the projects scope, budget and schedule against progress made to date. It facilitates searches for missing pieces early on in the development process, when its far easier—and inexpensive—to make corrections. (And those are just a few of its uses.)

Its also important to consider how a company has determined the methodology it uses. How did this process evolve? The firms experience should have taught it which steps to take, and which to avoid. Formal training and certification is also a plus, obviously.

All companies can benefit from this approach. Large, global consultancies can work to reduce the bureaucracy that often accompanies their size. Smaller firms should consider this a way to improve their offerings to clients. And companies shopping for a provider can use this criterion to narrow their list.

Creating a methodology—or partnering with a firm that uses one—doesnt mean that unforeseen problems wont arise. It means that they are recognized, managed and resolved through a consistent method.

Companies that have gotten too far ahead of themselves have paid the price. A back-to-basics approach like this one makes good sense.

Dan Dokmanovich is president and co-founder of Centrifusion, a Chicago-based provider of comprehensive e-business solutions. He can be reached at [email protected]