Care And Feeding of MAS 90 Consultants (Tips & Tricks)

This morning some of those in my 90 Minds group were comparing notes around stressful client interactions that we’d all had during this busy December month.

What’s interesting is that while our client interactions might have been slightly different – were were all concerned about some of the same things.

Here in no uncertain order are the main issues that seem to keep bubbling to the surface when supporting clients. I mention them because avoiding — or recognizing them — can save an end user of MAS tons of money over the long term.

#1 – “Can you write down all the instructions that my IT guy needs to upgrade our version x.xx (usually really old – to version 4.40”

Reason this is of concern:

a. Usually your consultant is managing well over 100 clients. This doesn’t count those people who call daily with “quick questions”. It’s difficult to remember every nuance of a client’s site – especially when they’ve probably upgraded hardware twice since the consultant was last there.

b. There are too many variables to write down a “how to” (Are you using customizations, Extended Solutions, do you have custom reports? Are there remote users? How are the remote users dialing in? Any third party applications like Starship, Credit Cards, Business Alerts, eBusiness?)

c. If your consultant provides the how to and the instructions don’t work — then usually (right or wrong) the consultant is expected to “fix MAS90’s mess” for free.

#2 – “Hey quick question – you’re not going to charge me are you?”

Reason this is of concern:

a. The question is quick but a competent answer shouldn’t be
b. Most of the time those doing the asking aren’t also offering free product to their customers
c. Quick questions by definition imply the client needs to wave a magic wand (almost always without understanding the issue by asking questions) and have the problem disappear.

There is a disturbing trend (which I hope continues because honestly we get a lot of clients this way) where a client asks a consultant a question expecting just a yes or no answer — without the consultant having the opportunity to fully understand the problem.

Put your consultant on “yes or no” status and I guarantee that you’ll be looking for another consultant within two years.

#3 – That network or hardware issue a company is experiencing is absolutely a MAS 90 problem. The network vendor is so sure about it they CC: the company president, the president of Sage, the president of your organization…

Reason this is of concern:

a. Maybe it is a MAS 90 problem – and maybe it isn’t . Or maybe it’s a hybrid. The person doing the diagnosis usually wouldn’t even know how to log into or install the program. What qualification (beyond a Google web search) do they have to make this diagnosis.

b. Like all complicated problems most diagnosis require a series of tests before prescription can be made (To quote Ed Kless – Prescription before Diagnosis is malpractice).

# 4 – “Can’t you call Sage and have them fix it?”

Reason this is of concern:

a. Well usually no. There are more users than just your company on the product — and for Sage to make any fix (which sometimes the “fixes” people want are plain bizarre) would require extensive testing to be sure someone else’s favorite feature doesn’t break.

b. Consultants are no more able to call Sage and have the “fix it” than the IT person (who usually makes these requests) is able to call Steve Ballmer at Microsoft and have him fix Windows Vista.

I guess my real moral of the story is this.

If you’re paying a consultant for advice (keyword here = paying) — either take the advice — or find another consultant.

We’re fast approaching the days where browsing the web for a consultant who will answer a quick quick question without any background or study of the problem are over. Those consultants within the next year or two are largely gone, gobbled up by a competitor and working as an employee or retired.

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