Same picture, same feelings

Reporting consumers are very hungry about the data, the details and the different perspectives they want to have on a single topic. I have not objection on the existence of reports for management, but there is a limit on all of this so we should be focused on the customer and not just doing internal reports.

Back-office employees, do not use to meet the customer, so it’s important to establish a direct link between then and the customer. Ok, you have the software, the products… but in a big organizations you also have people doing management stuff and they do not deliver software, they produce reports. These guys are part of the team, they are part of the E2E value chain delivery and they are part of what your customer see from your company.

Same picture, same feelings, is a sentence I use when I look at the perspective of the reports my customer is receiving. Having the same reports internally and externally ensures me the team is aware of what the customer is seeing, and they react when some trend or data is unusual or out of context.

I do not use to ask for new reports if they are not for my customer. If I find a set of data that can be valuable for the customer, I ask the creation of such report and I send to my customer with a question:

is this type of information valuable for you?

After some months I ask again if receiving that report is valuable or not. If it is not, then I stop sending it (time is gold).

Keep reporting lean and very focused on what your customer wants, this will enable you to react quickly when they want changes, keep overhead costs at minimum, and keep the people generating reports with a clear sense of customer value.

bike in Netherlands

bike in Netherlands

(Den Haag, Netherlands, passion by bikes)

Provide discovery for free

IT consulting companies provide a wide portfolio of solutions where there are basically a discovery phase and an implementation phase. I’m referring to consulting areas, not to products that reproduce reports based on input information.

Some companies give it for free. The two main arguments are simple:

  1. If you understand in deep the problem your customer has, then you have a good % of the deal.
  2. In addition the customer knows its problem and s/he does not want to pay for something s/he already knows.

Nothing is free in this world; and you can say that a good salesman will sell this discovery phase for a good bunch of dollars simply because is able to convince the customer about the value of working with him.

What is “value”?

Value is a perception, your clients see you by the value you provide, not by the amount of hours you work. I’m not inventing the wheel but I have repeated this basic statement more than I thought.

Look at the things you do from the “value” point of view, in short term you will deliver a better work, in long term it will enable you to model a reputation (that is a long term perception).

Concrete the terms on the abstract concept of “value” : when you save your clients time, when you make your clients to earn more money, when you reduce the risk your client faces, when you teach them; you are providing value, your client has a problem and you conduct him to the solution. This perception is built during the journey, once you reach the solution, the journey ends and the experience is evaluated by the customer. It’s About the Journey, not the deliverable.

The perfect storm on an opportunity

You are evaluating an opportunity and all the different components of the opportunity are there.

The customer has a pain, you have the right solution and some technical people understanding the issue working for them. You know you can build the solution in a couple of weeks, that you are competitive in that niche.

You talked to the business buyer, s/he agrees with the solution approach and the business case is strong: with a good ROI and aligned with the investment strategy approved by governance.

Then, why you should not go ahead with this opportunity?

there’s no compelling event.

cuchillo

(Last week I used a the cover of a wood box of wine to build a place to store knives, recycling!!!  )

Why do I need Big data consulting services?

A customer did that question to me; very simple question, no bad intentions behind it. He was looking for the basis.

I remembered him something so as old as the wheel: how the data to turn into information is really a repeated cycle.

BPOs and IT staff is really used to work with a volume & complexity of data that they manage with a lot of maturity, being productive information that drives them to make decisions with enough confidence.

The appearance of more complex data structures, the ability to handle the data in new manners and perspectives, the fact that things that were not measured now you have data about them, etc.

  • How can you give priority to all this? and not get stuck.
  • Is your staff trained to handle these new perspectives?
  • Is your company taking the advantage of all these new available data that you can turn into information, knowledge and value for the company?

The information cycle continues running, and this new paradigm of solutions make you to be again on the start line of the cycle, so you will have to walk again through it. Consulting services will accelerate the way to walk on it.

Cobit

Dancing with procurement

Some notes for reminding when you are dancing with your customer procurement department.

  1. This is pure negotiation, there is not IT or project logic at this point. There are conditions and a transaction in place.
  2. The customer IT lead that requested you the offer, is not the decision maker for a while. He will be asked by procurement to give other vendor alternatives, to make pressure before to send them the offer, but his/her voice is just listened sometimes.
  3. Your offers have expiration dates.
  4. Your offers contain Local Service Agreements and are aligned with the existing MSA.
  5. Your commercial lead is always in the loop of calls, e-mails…
  6. They have their rules, you have yours, follow them, do not accept what is not acceptable,

There are thousand of more things to remind, any suggestion?

Capabilities & Credibility

You have a sales catalogue, know people who perform some of these solutions and the people behind this delivery.

But with respect your customer, do you have the necessary credibility? has your customer confidence on your acquired commitments?

The capabilities of your company can be bad or good, but they will be there for a long time, your credibility is being challenged everyday.

 

You are in the escalation chart, what does it really means?

I, as part of a management team and lead of a Line of Service, am in the service delivery management escalation.

In the ITIL books you can read a lot of pages about what does means, your responsibilities, expectations around the role, typical actions….

But, does the books talks about how your customer see this fact?

Your customer knows what this process means, he bought it, and he wants to be sure that he is receiving what he is paying.

So, he is going to ask you about major incidents, RCAs, improvement actions and a good list of questions to see if that fantastic escalation process works.

So, for the formal escalation, we have reports, meetings and things like that.

But I also like the informative escalation specially before meet a customer. In a nutshell:

“hi Peter, I’m going to visit John, how is everything going on?”

If you are asked by a customer about what’s going on with a problem and you do not know anything about it, his reaction will be in the second or third time: he is not aware about what’s going on. He is going to have a negative image of what you do.

But, if you are aware and you  are able to inform about it with some details, his reaction will be different. He is aware you are not going to resolve any problem, he knows you can support your team, and he knows that at the end of the day there are SLAs that cover the agreement between both sides and that it does not matter if you are aware or not of this issue, but at the relationship level, his reaction and attitude about you and your proffessionality is going to be positive.

White House Subway, Atlantic City, NJ

Different goals, different results, different points of view

Last week we were in Barcelona promoting my wife’s company.

It was a slow fashion fair, 2 days event with speakers, live music and different brands from the eco-fashion sector showing their products and projects.

The event was very well organized taking into account the budget and that this was the first year. All was in the right place at the right time, the music bands were good, the food too, the space was in the midtown… then what could be wrong?

There were no people… Are you kidding?

I’m not kidding. The organization did communications in the Internet and in specific forums around the sector, journalists, TV and so on. There were fliers to share with people, but not so much effort to show it to the public.

The result was that so much journalists and bloggers were there, looking for things to write and taking pictures. Don’t get me wrong, this is fantastic and all this publicity in the national TV, newspapers and blogs is a fantastic thing to have, it is part of the investment we were looking for.

But……in my simple world I see two points of view.

First, the communications company main goal is to communicate, so I understand that the organization was so happy at the end of the weekend, they were able to attract different media companies and publish a lot of material for advertisement.

Second, the companies participating on the event, which their main goal is to sell. For sure in these type of events you obtains other type of return in the manner of advertisement; but you also expect some type of return in cash. It can be more or less, it depends on so many factors, but one imperative is to have people walking in front of the stands.

If in two days, 2000 people visit the stand and you don’t sell anything, then you have a problem. But if the stand is visited by around 200 people, including the journalists, then the amount of return you can obtain is so small.

At the end of the days, if there is not people, then something has failed. People in the other stands were not expecting thousand people there but the general opinion was the same I’ writting here. In general the main goal for all stands was to advertise their brands and cover part of the costs of the event. The first part was partially covered, but the second no.

This communications company is going to try to do the same event next year, trying to attract international brands, and better positioned companies. These companies are going to demand a minimum number of people visiting the stands, a minimum of famous people involved in the event, good names for the music bands and other things like that.

I hope the organization learn about it.

Visit Customers, real life

I had a basketball coach that always repeated to us:

One game is equivalent to five training sessions, you guys are more concentrated and pay more attention to all, the productivity you have is huge. The evolution of the players just training is poor, this is not real life.

This was the reason because he was always looking for friendly games with other teams or old players, to put you on real situations.

In my honest opinion he was right.

Now, 20 years later I have remembered these words but in a different environment: IT industry and customers.

When I started to work as developer I visited my customers and this was something usual to do; nothing strange. I work in a back-office and travel to visit my customers on the front office, but no everybody have these opportunities here.

The other day I read this fantastic comic and found that in the office I work there are so many developers that they never have met a customer face to face.

What will happen to them the first time they play their first real game?