There is a perception that enterprise software is easy. The thought process goes something like: “How can adding up numbers and producing reports be as hard to do as programming image recognition, or writing software to control nuclear power plants?”
This is spot on. I typically start a project by suggesting that we spend time assessing current business processes and making changes as needed. This is normally rebutted by “we know our processes and they’re fine”, or “you’re just trying to bill us more”, or one of a 100 other excuses. This should be where the red flag goes up and I walk away. Somehow, I convince myself that I can help them. The next thing I do is exclude business process consulting from the proposal. The client is typically thrilled to see this excluded, because “they are going to save money” (tongue in cheek). Fast forward and I’m in a daily struggle to try and avoid process changes. We finally “go-live” and the real fun begins. The daily discoveries keep you constantly adjusting. The pricing rule that we weren’t aware of, the many exceptions to the rules, and then the confused looks from users when you say you didn’t plan for that untold scenario. It’s easy to say “you should have caught that during discovery”, which is in hindsight. All of this churn creates stress for everyone, both customer and consultant. Add in a weak leader on the customer side and it can be even more painful.
The odd thing is, I LIKE to help these customers. IF you can get them to hold on long enough to see the benefit, they come out on the other side in a stronger position. Hopefully the next project they tackle will be done with more foresight and a better understanding.
Good article. Thanks for sharing.