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When IT Projects Go Awry: A Timely Reminder for Partners

It's unlikely that a partner exists who doesn't have a cringe-worthy memory of a project that got out of control and didn't end well.

We may never know the full story of how HealthCare.gov joined the ranks of poorly executed IT projects, but it's pretty easy to imagine -- endless committee meetings, ignored recommendations and unrealistic deadlines. 

HealthCare.gov should serve as a vivid reminder to partners that the customer is not always right. You are the expert. You know the planning and execution steps that are required for a successful implementation of the solutions you represent.  

The Cloud Accelerates
One of the promises of the cloud is faster time-to-realization. While implementing new solutions quickly is clearly a benefit to customers, the cloud can also tempt quick solutions to complex problems. Solving problems instantly instead of thoughtfully is not a recipe for success.

The mantra from Microsoft that sales velocity must increase for partners to be successful with the transition to the cloud needs to be balanced by a measured implementation approach. Businesses can get hurt when decision makers don't understand the implications of the choices they make. On the front lines, partners have the responsibility to force customers to step back and consider the risks of acting without proper planning.

With strong operational guidelines of your own in place, you can help guide your customers through the temptations of a cloud-based quick-fix. Educate your entire team on the need to always adhere to best practices, like:

  • The on-boarding plan. No matter what solutions you offer, having a clear, step-by-step plan for on-boarding can help you guide customers to make better choices. If you don't already have a plan in place, tap into Microsoft training and resources to build it.

  • Partner for expertise. Because Office 365 opens the door to far more than just Office -- like SharePoint and Dynamics CRM -- you need to help customers take a broad approach. If you don't have the expertise, partner with providers that have the training and experience to help clients avoid mistakes.

  • Project management. Every project, including fixed- and subscription-priced implementations, should have an adequate amount of project management built-in. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  • Sales accountability. It's never easy to say no to an opportunity, especially when you're the salesperson. Salespeople should have a vested interest in closing sales that are the start of long-term relationships with customers. Compensation based solely on churning transactions will support behaviors not in the best interest of the customer or partner.

The next time you are tempted to give in to the customer's driving need to "just get it done and we'll work out the details later," think about the project managers on HealthCare.gov. They will surely tell you it's not worth it.

What steps are you taking to help customers take a thoughtful approach to cloud solutions? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 24, 2013 at 11:09 AM