Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Achieve the Results You Plan For

Fear of Waste

In this economy, every dollar counts. Guilt or embarrassment sets in from spending on something that doesn't work or collects dust on the shelf from lack of use. by Gary Horsman


At Google we say ‘Data beats opinion’ and ‘Say it with numbers’. Pretotyping does this: it moves you from the world of ideas to the world of data. The discussion between the innovators and investors is no longer about opinion. You don’t just think your product is going to be great; you have data to back you up. That changes the conversation. I like to say: ‘Innovate like a start-up; go to market like a grown up.’ By Alberto Savoia, founder of Pretotype Labs and former Google innovation executive.

Learning, how important is it?

“The need for learning never ends, so your desire to do so should always outweigh your desire to be right”. by KevinDaum.com

The above are quotes from articles I’ve recently read which have all resulted in the same afterthoughts relating them to the BI industry I work in. I think I can best sum this up by saying for me it raised the importance for setting expectations or to elaborate, you achieve the results you plan for, which coincidently is taken from our customer engagement methodology, our marketing Manager will be pleased!

So to explain and to add more context, what has setting expectations and planning got to do with BI reporting or analytics?

Ever known a company or person to buy into the idea that a piece of software will change their fortunes without understanding whether the potential value delivered back outweighs the cost of buying it? I raise my hand! And it’s not that we’re stupid, but having been in the SME marketplace for the majority of my customer interactions I have witnessed a lot of software purchases being based upon a belief, a desire, a good sales job! And as a result when it gets reviewed and to justify if it’s not being used or not worked, nine times out of ten you will hear amongst the feedback some reference to requirements or spec not being delivered. Basically, what has been delivered is different from what they thought would be delivered?

I’ve sat in the same room, listened to the same conversation about the same project yet on the debrief you still have a totally different understanding of what the customer wants to the fellow project team members.

So how do you limit this risk? Obvious, you say, you plan and document things. And although it does sound obvious traditionally only a few companies, usually the corporates were the only engagements where a Proof of Concept, Business Case, Investment Justification Study were undertaken before a decision would be made on a new reporting platform. Typically, this would be a paid exercise that either an external company or experienced internal specialist would conduct.

I have seen over the past 3-5 years its not only corporates who are raising business cases to justify investment. Of course the financial climate has played a part in this however the concern I have in what I have seen in the SME marketplace is that with financial constraints many are conducted by internal personnel who really don’t have the experience let alone the dedicated time to deliver the plan and keep on top of the documentation required. But surely this can’t be the only reason? Are there not companies out there offering this service for a reasonable fee! I’m pretty sure last time I looked most, if not all software products (even open source!) have partners that will offer to charge you to tell you what you already know…  And herein lies the issue… Many SME Business Leaders are still conditioned to react to consulting fees with this very thought pattern.

Apart from being in a better position professionally is it not better to pay for or hire a third party to conduct the analysis who can also dedicate the necessary time for the job and inevitably get things done a lot quicker. Doesn’t it also give them liability if the analysis proves mistaken and gives a much better chance of receiving an honest, complete assessment? 

Pay a company to scope it. A business case that has liability but also reputation at stake is a professional and lowest risYou k option no matter what I or the emotional part of your brain is telling you... 

Whether its learning to trust data to support your business decisions or conquering the fear of getting it wrong. Through planning, you will set realistic expectations and in doing so improve the relationship with both your colleagues and your customers and you never know maybe you’ll achieve the results you plan for… 

Written by:  Ben Hedger, Senior Business Development Consultant, DSCallards

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