There is a cost to not making a decision and here's my story. I was once asked by a potential customer, "Who's your biggest competitor?"
I thought to myself, was it a local consultant? Was it a specific technology? Could it be Salesforce or Access or even Excel spreadsheets? The answer I realized was none of the above.
The answer I went with was, “The company that does not make a decision and the customer who thinks the status quo is okay for now.” That's my my biggest competitor and the answer surprised the gentleman who asked the question. You see, I had been at his location over 2 years ago, chatting with this same individual about a potential project and in the end, no decision was made. Fast-forward over 730 days and we were still talking about the same project.
Think of it this way: I would not be onsite having a meeting if the status quo was all right. Being in sales, you know that you are not going to win every sale. It is a strange logic that goes like this - if I am not going to win the deal, then at least tell me someone else has won the deal and let me know a decision has been made. When I hear silence or worse, the common phrase, "We have not made a decision at this time," this tells me this company is going to try to ride it out for another year or 2 and stick with the status quo, while at the same time, crossing their fingers that the existing software workflow or hardware does not break down.
What Causes the Status Quo Customer Response?
- Budget is lacking
- Workflow is not defined
- Timeline is too tight
- Decision makers are unaware of the problem
- Fear of change from user base
- Influencers & stakeholders are not involved in the decision-making process
How Technology Companies Help Mitigate the Status Quo from Pushing Back Decisions With Projects
Budget is lacking: The budget to any project needs to be defined at the first meeting. When I ask customers about budget, it is not about trying to build a project to take up all funds. The reason we ask that question is to understand if there is enough funding for all stages of this project - ex. Does this project need to built in phases & are we the right fit for this customer? Bottom line budget also needs to be defined and if it is not, then how serious can this customer be about fixing the issue(s)?
Workflow is not defined: In order to provide an accurate and complete estimate, a comprehensive understanding of workflow needs to be submitted to the consultant early in the estimate process. If a complete workflow is not finalized, then this can lead to either too high of an estimate due to unknowns or too low of an estimate as not all required functionality is listed.
How do we help with defining workflow? At CoreSolutions, we overcome this workflow challenge by:
- Providing a template that helps capture basic workflow, reporting, & layout information in a "Project Discovery Document."
- Offering a service the helps define and build the workflow called the Business Requirements Definition (BRD). This is a billable service that comes in more than one type. For really complicated workflows, we will have a customer go through the BRD process.
Timeline is too tight: Timeline refers to when a project needs to begin or when it needs to reach final completion. The usual answer I hear is, "I need this yesterday." Sometimes the time to define the workload or build the solution will take too long. Some companies have measurable busy cycles. Implementing a new project during the busiest time of the year will not lead to a successful implementation or adaption rate. In order to get past the timeline being the reason for not making a decision, some companies will work with the developer to determine the best time to have a new application implemented and tested.
Decision makers are unaware of the problem: Decision makers need be on the same page. This is sales 101 - the decision makers need to be in attendance at major meetings. But decision makers need to also understand the timelines involved, such as the commitment of time required by staff to build workflow and to test the different phases of applications. Successful solutions typically have decisions makers in the loop, so that they have an overall understanding of the project scope - including time, workflow and user defined needs.
Fear of change from user base: Change can be scary, especially if it is perceived that this is change for the sake of change. Generally, to become more efficient, new systems will require different layouts, screens, reports or workflows. Fear by the user base can be overcome in a few ways:
- The customer can nominate a few power users of system who will test, deploy and have input on many of the new functions. In particular, screen layout and report creation.
- Through hands-on training that can be provided for users either remotely or onsite.
- By creating a User's Guide with the customer's guidance.
Influencers and stakeholders are not involved in the decision-making process: Inclusion of stakeholders and influencers is key to a project's success. The bigger the project, the greater the odds that more than one department, process or manager will be involved. In medium to large scale projects, sometimes it's only the people inputting data that have issues and want a new process in place. Their own colleagues or superiors may not know that an issue exists. One of the main reasons why defining workflow is so important is that this will determine whose departments will need input in a new application and potential new or modified process(es).
The Pitfalls of Sticking with the Status Quo
Maintaining the status quo isn't always the best business decision. Oftentimes, it's an emotional bias for the present set of circumstances (See - Status Quo Bias). Although you may avoid the challenge of having to retrain your staff in the present moment, the fact of the matter is that in the world of software, you're bound to face the, "It's time to upgrade your software," scenario. If you don't believe me, then you're likely still running Windows 95 on your machine.
So what are the negative repercussions of sticking with the status quo? Well, here are a few:
- You won't be future-proofing your organization for forthcoming technological changes
- Your clients & staff will view your company as a technology dinosaur - who wants their business to be viewed as lagging behind in anything?
- You'll have to add new features & additional functionality to your system as the years progress - in terms of development dollars & technical upkeep, this will cost more in the long run
- Your time & your IT staff's time spent managing the day-to-day operations of your software will skyrocket
Ready to Move Forward? Need Help Defining Your Project?
Let us assist you! At CoreSolutions, we're determined to take you Beyond Software™ to make your next project a success! Whether you're replacing old software or looking to purchase new software, we can help walk you through the process!
The first step is to complete a project profile form on our website & we'll connect with you to learn more about how we can serve you best.
Thanks for reading!