Here’s a great post that I spotted this morning that describes why IT Contracts fail. Though it seems to center around legal aspects – I believe that the true reasons go deeper.
Most IT project failure leads back to fully thinking and understand the scope of the project. In the race to get the (free) quote and the (free) assessment from the IT providers the customer forgets to analyze whether they’re making a sound long term decision.
I see this all the time. People (admittedly on a much smaller scale) think they can email a request to dozens of vendors with a request to “give them a price” for a certain project.
In my world it’s usually an upgrade of their MAS90 accounting software. However occasionally it is for a new software implementation. In each instance I’m incredibly nervous that the person making the email request has incorrectly assessed their needs.
As VARS we are left with two choices:
A. Go out and do a free paid analysis (which invariably gets used to solicit bids from a preferred provider)
B. Guess at a number (and hope that if it’s approved that the project doesn’t have any hidden “gotchas”)
The core issue is that customers unwilling to developer a project definition are looking for a Chevy price when in fact they realistically need the current year’s Rolls Royce because they often don’t have the internal understanding of what’s desired/needed and think that the software magically cures the issue.
While this example specifically relates to software I believe it accurately depicts most complex projects where the customer wants a one price bid to fix something they don’t understand.
Sadly the IT world still largely operates under a model where pre-sales consultations are assumed to be completely free and the customer assumes that they’ve correctly identified both current and future technical and business issues (or that they can use a free quote to do so).
When It Comes To Enterprise Software – It’s The Contract Stupid image via
The secret to being able to get more things done in a day is preparation.
By virtue of my business (ERP consulting) I tend to come into contact with quite a few users of MAS90 software who’ve found my company through a web search or read an article that I’ve written somewhere.
I don’t want to seem like I’m ungrateful – because I really enjoy working with new companies. However many of these companies have deep technical questions they’d like answered (for free) or want to get a bid on a complex problem such as a system upgrade — for free.
If you’re asking yourself “shouldn’t bids be free” — my answer is no. Not when the bid often also requires that the provide have expert knowledge and diagnostic capabilities around the subject matter.
A range of pricing should be free. That’s what we provide.
A proposal with an exact price, steps that will be taken, and schedule for performing that work should be paid.
Using the power of easy search and this tool called a search engine visitors send a seemingly endless flood of emails looking for free advice.
I never make the mistake in thinking that I’m the only one receiving the emails – and you shouldn’t either. Most seem generic enough that they’ve probably been crafted to be sent to multiple people hoping that one of them will provide a free answer to a technical question.
Should these answers and proposals all be free? My answer is no.
To quote my friend Ed Kless who in turn is quoting one of his favorite TV Shows (Mad Men) – “It’s my profession , what do you expect me to do?”.
Continue reading “It’s my profession, What Do You Expect Me To Do?”
Click the image at left for a full sized version of an email that I just received not 10 minutes ago. Here’s another from July 1, 2010 where the sender was kind enough to leave in the names of all the consultants that were emailed the RFP (Tip: Never think you’re the only one).
It illustrates part of that’s wrong with the ERP marketplace.
Don’t misunderstand me – it’s not that I think it’s wrong for a prospect to send around this email.
What saddens me is that the prospect likely has at least in part mis-diagnosed their needs — and probably will receive two or three sight unseen quotes from other VARS.