I look in my diary – I see two days on a site somewhere the other side of absolutely nowhere, otherwise known as Norfolk. Objective: ‘Improve planning process’.
First port of call is the project manager to launch a vitriolic denunciation of his/her oversimplification of my craft. Then I turn my attention to the account manager, who claims ‘if anyone can sort it out, you can’. Ego suitably buffed, I’m on my way to supply chain glory.
Everyone in consultancy has seen this – fluffy objectives and expectations of hero-like performances. Can we do better at managing these expectations from the get-go? Yes. Should we? Probably. But, at the end of the day, people like us keep on delivering and we have to make a living.
So how do we manage expectations and assure quality accordingly without becoming the sales avoidance department? (Author pauses to await the barrage of academic silver bullets).
Of course we have to understand the customer’s requirement. Naturally, we have to set appropriate objectives. The project managers will wax lyrical about documentation and governance. Once we have that out of the way, it’s all about matching up the delivery with the requirement. A companywide understanding of what we do is a given. What our capabilities are. What our experiences are. What our aptitudes and passions are.
Aptitudes and passions? How is that more important than cold, hard skills? A number of years ago I went to a customer who was publicly looking for a replacement ERP. I didn’t even get offered a cup of tea (those of you in the UK will appreciate the significance of this). After three hours of talking about aeroplanes, we got the customer back on our side. They are still with us, just upgrading to SYSPRO 7.
The flip-side is also true. I have seen deals lost where the customer cites a ‘lack of hunger’. If we aren’t hungry enough for an assignment and we don’t share the passions and vision of the people we are trying to help, we should stay at home and at least save the brand a beating.
We all have similar stories. We all have our passions. Matching up those passions with the assignment is a sure-fire way to get the bilateral engagement we need to get successful outcomes. Selling, delivering, building, and repairing. It works.
Happy holidays and a prosperous New Year to all.