Series Introduction Note: The next 3 parts of this series contain step by step instructions and pointers on managing the RFP process (Part 2), conducting the vendor selection (Part 3), and then how to use the blueprint process to correct any discrepancies and lay a solid foundation for succes (Part 4).
If you are an IT decision maker and you’re tired of pressure to achieve results that your system vendors or integrators can’t seem to deliver, use these steps to get the most for your money and achieve breakthrough results. Much of this article can be applied to any major project effort your company undertakes. While some of the suggestions offered here can seem harsh or difficult from a people management perspective they can make a huge difference in your career prospects, credibility, and any future budget requests.
Neutralizing the vendor proposal scams, clearing the smoke and looking past the mirrors for your ERP, SAP, or technology project requires a little clarity up front before you start your vendor selection. It is possible to achieve breakthrough business results using technology and business software systems like SAP if you approach your project with the right perspective.
That Brown Smelly Stuff they are Selling is NOT Chocolate
Promises, promises, sales scams, smoke, mirrors, and vendor proposals, you’ve heard it all before–, the sales pitches promise you a chocolate pie but all you get is some very expensive, and very smelly, dark brown fertilizer.
What these sales pitches never tell you and never deliver on is the “how” to make all of those chocolate pies. As former General Electric front man Jack Welch calls it “the secret sauce.” Sure, they describe some super-special secret sauce, they tell you all about their wonderful “Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory” but they only describe a fictitious place, an imaginary state of being.
Fairy Tales and Vendor Selection Promises
I’ve been on lots of projects where someone dreams up what I call “mutually exclusive requirements.” These are things that are completely contradictory, they are the old “either / or” logic gates. You can have one, or the other, but you can’t have both. Lots of presentations have the sales person delivering tons of promises that no one can deliver on.
Then reality sets in after you’ve signed the contract and the sales person leaves. A strange odor begins to permeate the whole project. But this usually happens very slowly over time so that you go through the “boiling frog” syndrome. You smell a little here and a little there, but like most people you get used to it and think this is just the way it is. You dismiss early signs that there may be something wrong, or you chalk it up to isolated incidents. After you transition to a live environment and it is too late you suddenly realize it was not a chocolate pie you were getting but something else that is brown and smelly.
When someone on the project has to deliver on the sales person’s promises some members of the vendor selection team are no longer involved in the day to day project delivery of those sales promises–, even if they are they often forget everything that was promised. They only remember a few of their pet peeves they saw or heard during the presentation. When the sales person describes lots of what sounds like chocolate you end up with lots of brown smelly stuff that is NOT the chocolate you were promised!
After the sales pitches and the promises what you end up with are blown technology project budgets, blown technology project timelines, and buggy custom-coded solutions for “off the shelf” packaged applications. Fear not, there ARE things that can be done to reduce these results that are so very common with technology projects.
And even if you are misled by a vendor there are still things that can be done after you start with that vendor to ensure you don’t get taken.
SAP, ERP, and Technology RFP – Getting the Most Out of Your Technology Investment
There are several opportunities in early stages of your SAP, ERP, or other technology project to lay the ground work for genuine breakthrough results. Along with the breakthrough results these early steps can help to set the tone and foundation for a very successful on time and on budget project. There is just no reason for companies to continue to get taken by some of the unscrupulous or questionable practices in the technology and IT marketplace.
Even after you have selected your system integrator or implementation vendor you still have several chances to make sure they deliver their very best–, the very best tools, resources, and quality of workmanship. If you change out questionable consultants early in your project then you will set a clear expectation of the caliber and quality of resources you will accept from your vendor. Doing this early is the best time before they can do any serious damage.
General Patton once said that “War is Hell!” and business in today’s global economy is WAR! The question you need to ask yourself is if you are in a war in the marketplace do you want raw recruits who are going to go through boot camp at your company, on your dime? Or do you want veteran Navy Seals, Marine Snipers, and Airborne Rangers? Raw recruits are usually cheaper, and that experience from those veterans comes at a cost, but who do you think will give you the best chance of winning the war for marketplace position?
Let me tell you, that Marine Sniper will hit his targets at 1,000 yards, but the raw recruits will not only miss, but in doing so will also give away your position and open you up to attack. So in the end you decide which is more important. You decide if it is better to take your chances or to take steps to make sure you’re not paying Navy Seal prices for raw recruits.
There are three key events or timeframes early in the project when you can create the best environment for breakthrough project success. Two of these areas have no risk and at all and one of them contains a moderate amount of risk. These three key events are:
- During business case development, RFP creation, and first pass rough project scoping.
- The actual vendor selection process, vendor proposal reviews, and system integrator contract.
- During and at the end of the blueprint process.
These key events contain several ways you can take control of your own business destiny and help to ensure the technology investment you make will move your business forward.
Four Part Series:
Achieve Breakthrough ERP, SAP, or IT Project Success: 1 of 4
Breakthrough Project Success: 2 of 4, IT Vendor Proposal RFP
Breakthrough Project Success: 3 of 4, Vendor Selection and Contracts
Breakthrough Project Success: Part 4 of 4, Last Low Risk Chance for Results
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